The next case study from our Oxfordshire Innovation Engine 2023 is here. In this study, we look at commercial biotechnology research company, Immunocore.
Immunocore develops novel therapies that harness our immune system by using T Cell Receptor (TCRs) biology to fight cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune conditions, using science that originated from research conducted at Oxford University.
Researchers at the company develop, what they call, ImmTAX™ (Immune Mobilizing Monoclonal TCRs Against X disease) molecules. The idea of the ‘X’ is that the technology can be used to target cancers and other diseases, using the same approach.
These molecules are designed to get around the challenge that the body’s natural immune system is not always able to do what it is meant to do, because cancers and infectious diseases are adept at hiding from it or, in the case of autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body. They work by helping the body detect cancer or disease and encourage the immune system to kickstart a patient’s natural defences, for cancer and infectious diseases, or control them, for autoimmune conditions.
When the Innovation Engine update report of 2016 last covered Immunocore, it had scientific partnership arrangements with Genentech (a Roche company), GSK, Medimmune (owned by AstraZeneca) and Eli Lilly. Trials were reported as providing positive early results.
Since then, partnerships may have changed, but the positive results have continued. In 2022, Immunocore received FDA and EMA approval for its treatment for Uveal Melanoma (a cancer that affects the eye). It is the company’s first commercialised treatment, the first TCR therapy approved, as well as the first approved treatment for the condition. The drug is now approved for use in around thirty countries. Discussions with NICE are ongoing to establish if the treatment can be made available in the UK on the NHS.
You can read the full case study on our Innovation Engine page