Home » Blood Health » The Future of Cancer Treatments Is Here, Now

A cell therapy — very effective against a form of leukemia — points towards a wide range of future cancer treatments.

Bryan Kobel

CEO, TC BioPharm

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common type of leukemia in adults — about 20,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year alone. The disease is deadly and progresses rapidly if left untreated. Until recently, those treatments would be painful, uncomfortable, and potentially fatal.

“My first job as a scientist was working at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund,” says Angela Scott, founder and chief operating officer at TC BioPharm, a biopharmaceutical company developing advanced allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies for cancer. “I was disappointed with the often toxic treatment options cancer patients had, and resolved to spend my future developing medicines which were less toxic and that would help save lives.”

The “special sauce”

Scott, who was part of the ground-breaking team that cloned “Dolly the sheep,” co-founded TC BioPharm with Dr. Michael Leek in 2014.

“They came across this technology around this really unique immune cell called the gamma-delta when most cell therapies were focused on the alpha-beta,” explains Bryan Kobel, chief executive officer at TC BioPharm. “The first thing they did was build a manufacturing facility.”

Manufacturing the cell therapy in-house is the “secret sauce” at TC BioPharm, according to Kobel. “Mike and Angela understood that owning your manufacturing process was going to be core to being successful — these cells are living, breathing organisms that are changing. The best way to understand them is by knowing how to manufacture them and working with them day in and day out.”

What makes the gamma-delta cells so unique is their function as the body’s “bodyguards.” They detect and hunt down an antigen emitted by all tumors called isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP). Healthy cells don’t emit IPP, so gamma-deltas can be used to target cancer cells very accurately.


TC Biopharm’s research on treatments for AML has resulted in a breakthrough for cancer treatments with an allogeneic unmodified cell therapy consisting of activated and expanded gamma-delta T-cells called OmnImmune. “OmnImmune is an exciting product,” Scott says. “It’s one of the first cell therapies which will be available to large numbers of patients at an affordable price point.”

“OmnImmune is the first frozen-thawed gamma-delta in the clinic, meaning we can freeze it, ship it, and then store it for up to 9 months at clinical sites,” adds Kobel. “It’s a true off-the-shelf technology. Additionally, it is a donor-derived allogeneic, meaning we use healthy donors, not the patient. The economics of the therapeutic are therefore extremely cost effective for the patient and the system.”

That makes a huge difference, because trying to use the patient’s own cells means you’re starting with a weakened system and limited in the supply you can tap. Drawing from healthy donors increases the potential effectiveness of the treatment without putting the patient through more physical stress.

The OmnImmune trial data was very positive. There was complete and near-complete responses starting at the lowest dose level in 28 days, and results showed no adverse side effects.

Commitment to the future of cancer treatments

While TC BioPharm’s focus in the short-term is treating AML, they have ambitious plans for the future. “Moving forward, we aim to treat other blood cancers including multiple myeloma, ALL, CLL, and various lymphomas,” Scott says. “We are also looking into various combination therapies.”

“In the future, allogeneic cell therapies will be used to treat not just cancer but cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, diabetes, macular degeneration, and other indications,” Scott predicts. “Over time, therapeutic use of engineered tissues and organs combined with cell therapies will extend average life expectancy to over 100 years.” Ultimately, Kobel states that TC Biopharm will remain committed to helping the people who need it most. “We have 75 employees,” he notes, “and every day they are rowing in the same direction for an altruistic reason: they want to help patients. They want to cure patients. They want to save lives.”

Next article