Tessa Therapeutics announce creation of an Immuno-Oncology Laboratory with A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology

Collaboration Will Leverage Tessa’s Expertise in Cancer Immunotherapy and A*STAR’s Research Capabilities to Create Next Generation Treatments for a Wide Range of Cancers

Date: 07 Feb 2017 | Download Press Release (PDF)

SINGAPORE – 7 February 2017 – Tessa Therapeutics, an immunotherapy company dedicated to revolutionizing the treatment of cancer, today announced the formation of a joint immuno-oncology laboratory located in A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB). The laboratory aims to build on Tessa’s core Virus Specific T cell (VST) platform to create the next generation of immunotherapies to treat solid tumors. Immunotherapy is a novel approach to the treatment of cancer in which the patient’s immune system is activated to attack and destroy cancer cells.

The joint laboratory will be operated by Tessa Therapeutics and IMCB. For the collaboration, Tessa will combine its immunotherapy research capabilities, its T cell therapy production processes, and multinational clinical trial experience with IMCB’s expertise in cancer immunology. Research will focus on advanced T cell technologies and novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technologies in combination with Tessa’s T cell platform.

Tessa Therapeutics is currently conducting the world’s largest T cell therapy cancer trial, an international, multi-center FDA Phase III trial, using its VST technology to treat nasopharyngeal cancer. It is the first ever Phase III trial where T-cell therapy is used to treat cancer. Building on this technology, the company has advanced its platform to treat cervical and oropharyngeal cancer in a FDA Phase I trial that is currently conducted in the United States. Tessa’s pipeline also extends to other major cancer indications such as lung, liver, and gastric cancer.

“Whilst the treatment of certain blood cancers with T cell therapy has recently shown very promising results, the treatment of solid tumors remains a challenge. Tessa’s core Virus Specific T cell (VST) platform overcomes many of these challenges by redirecting the body’s powerful anti-viral immune response against the tumor. We are excited to create next-generation treatments based on a platform technology that has already demonstrated the key qualities of safety, potency, and persistence expected in a successful immune response,” says Associate Professor John E. Connolly, CSO of Tessa Therapeutics and Director of the Tessa Therapeutics – IMCB laboratory.

Dr. Malcolm Brenner, co-founder of Tessa Therapeutics and founding director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy (CAGT) at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, said “I am delighted that the fundamental research in T cell biology conducted at CAGT over many years is leading to life-saving therapies. This new laboratory has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of T cell biology in the tumor microenvironment and bring a next generation of cancer immunotherapies into the clinic.”

Andrew Khoo, co-founder and CEO of Tessa Therapeutics, commented on the collaboration “We at Tessa are committed to bringing much-needed treatments to cancer patients globally. We are proud that A*STAR is another strong Singaporean partner to join our international cancer immunotherapy network, building on our strategic alliance with the National Cancer Centre of Singapore. The combination of Tessa’s R&D, clinical, and commercial expertise with A*STAR’s world-class facilities and research capabilities holds great promise for us to accelerate lifesaving research and to further strengthen Tessa’s clinical trial pipeline.”

Professor Wanjin Hong, Executive Director of IMCB, said “This collaboration demonstrates the value of fundamental research and scientific discovery, and the vital role it continues to play in biomedical innovation. It also underscores A*STAR’s key role in supporting the local biotech ecosystem, translating our R&D capabilities to meet market needs and capturing value. Working together with Tessa, IMCB will contribute our capabilities and technologies to the development and improvement of novel cancer treatments and enhance the competitive advantage of Tessa in the global community. I am delighted that IMCB is part of this Singaporean-led project, and look forward to working with the team from Tessa Therapeutics to significantly improve the outlook for late-stage cancer patients.”


About Tessa Therapeutics

Tessa Therapeutics is a fully-integrated, international biotech company with the aim of revolutionizing the treatment of cancer. The company’s scientific vision is to redirect the body’s potent anti-viral immune response to the treatment of cancer. Tessa’s core virus-specific T cell (VST) platform has shown compelling results in the treatment of solid tumors. The company is building a portfolio of therapies addressing a wide range of tumors by combining the qualities of its T cell platform with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technologies and fully-human monoclonal and bispecific antibody capabilities. Tessa’s international, multi-center clinical trial and T cell therapy production & logistics experience is foundational to the company’s drive towards commercialization. The company has exclusive licenses to multiple technologies developed at Baylor College of Medicine. The National Cancer Centre Singapore, one of Asia’s leading clinical research centers, is a strategic shareholder of Tessa and has granted exclusive rights to immuno-oncology technologies to Tessa. The combination of such technologies from its academic, clinical, and commercial research & development partners have enabled the company to create a fully-integrated approach to the treatment of cancer with immunotherapy.

For more information on Tessa, please visit www.tessacell.com.


About the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)

The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) was launched on 23 January 1985, with its official opening ceremony held on 2 October 1987 at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It subsequently became an autonomous research institute (RI) of A*STAR, moving to Biopolis in 2004. IMCB’s vision is to be a premier cell and molecular biology institute which addresses the mechanistic basis of human diseases and its mission is to conduct cutting-edge discovery research in disease pathways; to groom early career researchers to be future leaders in research; and to collaborate with medical and industry communities for research impact. Funded primarily by the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) of A*STAR, IMCB plays an important role training and recruiting scientific talents, and has contributed to the development of other research entities in Singapore. Its success in fostering a biomedical research culture in Singapore has catalyzed Singapore’s transformation into an international hub for biomedical research, development, and innovation.

For more information about IMCB, visit www.imcb.a-star.edu.sg.


Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements, and past performance should not be considered as an indication of future performance.


Brunswick Group
Will Carnwath, CJ Lin
+65 6426 8188