As a leading allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy company, Atara is pioneering the development of transformative therapies for patients with serious diseases by leveraging our novel allogeneic Epstein Barr virus (EBV) T-cell platform.
With our differentiated and flexible EBV T-cell platform using allogeneic T cells, next-generation CAR T technologies, and world-class manufacturing capabilities, Atara is well-positioned to deliver on our goal of bringing transformative therapies to patients in need.
Atara is using EBV T cells from donors (allogeneic) as a platform to develop a comprehensive pipeline of investigational therapies for cancers and autoimmune diseases. EBV T cells specifically target EBV-infected cells. The natural attributes of EBV T cells offer potential benefits including a low likelihood to harm normal tissues and the ability to persist in the body long enough to fight the disease.
EBV T cells can be investigated for diseases where EBV is believed to be associated with the illness, such as certain blood cancers and multiple sclerosis (MS). They can also be modified with a gene for a specific receptor to attack targets on blood cancers and solid tumors. These receptors are called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) or T-cell receptors (TCRs).
Using this EBV T-cell platform, Atara is developing multiple T-cell immunotherapies with the aim to address a wide range of diseases. EBV-targeted T-cell immunotherapies are in development for diseases where EBV is believed to be associated with the illness, including tab-cel® for post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) and ATA188 for MS. Atara is also developing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) or T-cell receptor (TCR) therapies that are designed to retain the potential benefits of EBV T cells and are modified to express engineered receptors to target cancer cells.
The natural attributes of EBV T cells may offer benefits including a low likelihood to harm normal tissues, which may enhance tolerability and the ability to persist in the body long enough to fight the disease, offering the potential for durable response.
Let’s take a closer look…
EBV T cells naturally possess the following key characteristics:
Cells from donors are manufactured and stored in inventory with the goal of being readily available for patients with serious diseases
Next-generation CAR T technologies designed to:
Autologous T-cell immunotherapies that use a patient’s own T cells have been used successfully, primarily in the oncology space, to treat blood cancers.
However, there are limitations associated with modifying a patient’s own T cells including potentially poor cell quality, challenges with cell collection, manufacturing and logistics, and difficulty in treating other diseases such as solid tumors. Enhanced safety and efficacy are also needed. These issues may currently limit a patient’s ability to be treated with these promising T cell therapies.
Atara’s allogeneic T cells originating from donors are generated from immune cells that have not been exposed to chemotherapy, the immune effects of cancer, or the effects of other underlying autoimmune diseases, which can result in less variability and improved cell quality.
An inventory of these EBV T cells can be manufactured and stored with the goal of rapid delivery to patients within three days (off the shelf).
EBV T cells are present in large quantities in donors’ blood enabling streamlined collection and scalable manufacturing.
When the body encounters a virus, it naturally produces T cells to fight the viral infection. These cells specifically target and kill cells infected by the virus, and persist in the body following an infection, to be activated if the body encounters the virus again.
EBV is one of the most common human viruses with 90 percent of adults worldwide harboring lifelong, inactive infections, which are usually kept in check by the immune system. Once infected, cells with long-term memory are created. These cells wait to come back to fight the EBV virus when needed.
Those who have been infected, have a supply of T cells already programmed to specifically fight EBV (EBV-targeted T cells). These healthy EBV T cells can be donated by individuals, manufactured, stored as inventory, and can be available when third party patients need them.
EBV is associated with many cancers and autoimmune diseases. Our allogeneic EBV T-cell immunotherapy candidates are being investigated in a wide range of EBV-associated diseases such as lymphoproliferative diseases and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis – conditions where the patient’s own immune system is not able to adequately fight the virus. In this case, the EBV T cells are intended to directly attack the EBV-infected cells that are causing disease. Allogeneic EBV T cells from donors are being investigated as a way to replenish and enhance a patient’s natural immune function and directly target the underlying cause of EBV-associated disease.
The EBV T cells donated from individuals can be available when patients need them. The natural attributes of EBV T cells may offer benefits including a low likelihood to harm normal tissues, which may enhance tolerability and the ability to persist in the body long enough to fight the disease, offering the potential for durable response. As such, allogeneic EBV T cells have the potential to transform the treatment of diseases associated with EBV.
EBV T cells can also be modified to add receptors on the surface of the cells that target cancer cells to fight blood cancer and solid tumors. These chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) or T-cell receptor (TCR) therapies are designed to attack specific cancer targets while retaining the key advantages of the EBV T-cell platform including potential for reduced toxicity, homing to the site of disease, and persistence in the body long enough to fight the disease.
Atara has assembled a toolkit of next-generation technologies designed to enhance the benefits of T-cell immunotherapies and address some of the current limitations in the field. Atara’s next-generation T cells target antigens widely expressed in malignant cells, which may improve tumor specificity and reduce ability to harm normal cells. Atara is investigating novel co-stimulatory activity domains (1XX and Mut06) with the potential to provide more physiologic levels of signaling to avoid activation-induced cell death and exhaustion, reduce cytokine release syndrome (CRS), and improve persistence. Expression of PD-1 dominant negative receptor by CAR T cells aim to prevent suppression of T cells by the hostile tumor microenvironment and improve their antitumor activity, which may be beneficial in targeting solid malignancies.
Atara’s core manufacturing technology is designed to be scalable, reliable, and flexible. It provides a manufacturing platform from which our comprehensive pipeline of T-cell immunotherapies can be developed or leveraged to support collaborations with partner companies.
Our logistics capability has been utilized in clinical trials conducted at more than 60 trial sites in the United States, Australia, and Europe. Many of Atara’s allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy candidates using an EBV T-cell platform, including tab-cel® and ATA188, could be administered in an outpatient setting with the option to re-dose patients or switch to another line in inventory, if necessary.
We continue to innovate at our leading-edge research, development, and manufacturing facility in Southern California.
Our dedicated, expandable 90,000 sq. ft. Atara T-cell Operations and Manufacturing (ATOM) facility, with robust and scalable manufacturing processes, is designed to meet global regulatory standards and has the flexibility to produce multiple T-cell and CAR T immunotherapies. Since qualification in 2018, we are nearing commercial validation for the manufacturing of our lead program, tab-cel®. In addition, ATOM is advancing clinical T-cell manufacturing using our industrialized bioreactor process and is actively distributing to the clinical trial sites.
Atara is developing investigational allogeneic T-cell immunotherapies with the potential to transform the treatment of blood cancers, solid tumors, and autoimmune diseases. Allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy candidates based on an EBV T-cell platform are designed to provide a specific and targeted approach where EBV is associated with the disease. The EBV T-cell platform is a novel approach that offers potential flexibility. EBV T cells can be modified to produce CAR or TCR T-cell therapy candidates that are designed to overcome the hostile tumor microenvironment to target solid tumors, decrease cell exhaustion and death, and improve persistence. Atara’s manufacturing and distribution platform is designed to rapidly deliver product to patients within three days and enable reliable, biologics-like cost-of-goods.