Over the last years, immunotherapy – using a patient’s own immune system to fight tumours – has emerged as an important complement to standard treatments. The clinical implementation of immunotherapeutics has established T cells as efficient anti-cancer weapons if targeted by specific drugs. Their therapeutic utilization has recently come to a breakthrough: adoptive T cell therapy (ACT), collecting and transforming the patient’s own T cells to treat cancer. An estimated 753 different cell therapies are currently in development, of which 375 are in clinical trials worldwide. The global cell therapy market was valued at $2.70 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $8.21 billion in 2025. While European pharmaceutical companies and research institutions rank amongst the world leaders in basic and preclinical aspects of immunity including cell therapy development, clinical innovations and approvals in this field can be further developed.
The generation of such ACT products is a complex but ill-defined process with limited harmonization across production and clinical studies, even for the same indication. Cytokines are proteins responsible for the growth and differentiation of T cells. They are central to the generation procedure, whilst also playing a key role in the efficacy and safety of the cellular product. There is however a limited understanding as to which cytokines might lead to the best outcome on any of these steps. T-OP targets a pioneering research question: how do cytokines influence the therapeutic outcome of ACT products? T-OP brings together interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial teams spanning large and small-sized companies as well as experts in different aspects of cell therapy, immunology, protein engineering and bioinformatics. T-OP will train by research 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR), enabling them to develop efficient therapeutic solutions and to tackle economic opportunities.
Start of project: 1st March 2021
End of project: 28th February 2025
EU contribution: 4,1 Mio. €
17 partners from industry, academy and public authority
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 955575.