Technology Overview

Originating from over a decade of groundbreaking clinical experience at Memorial Sloan Kettering and QIMR Berghofer, Atara’s off-the-shelf, or allogeneic, T-cells are bioengineered from donors with healthy immune function and allow for rapid delivery from inventory to patients without a requirement for pretreatment. Atara’s T-cell immunotherapies are designed to precisely recognize and eliminate cancerous or diseased cells without affecting normal, healthy cells.

T cells are a type of white blood cell that performs several important functions in a healthy immune system. In patients with cancer and certain autoimmune conditions, the patient’s T cells are unable to effectively eliminate diseased cells.

Atara Biotherapeutics’ allogeneic technology is designed to harness, augment, and then transfer targeted, healthy T-cell immunity to a patient suffering from cancer, certain autoimmune diseases, or serious viral infections.

There are several important aspects of the technology.


Our T-cells are derived from healthy donors which means that we start with cells that have healthy immune function. We then apply our technology platforms to create T-cell lines that are precision-targeted to treat specific conditions (see below for more details on precision targeting). The advantages to this approach include:

  • Off-the-shelf, ready-to-utilize T-cell lines through a pre-built library of inventory with a relatively small number of lines is able to cover the majority of the population
  • Efficient management of therapeutic inventory
  • Prompt treatment – from the identification of need, we can deliver a therapeutic T-cells to a patient in ~ 3-5 days
Compelling safety profile
  • No lymphodepletion required before treatment
  • For ATA129, in 126 patients treated there were:
    • Nine possibly related serious adverse events, or SAEs
    • No infusion related toxicities
    • No evidence of cytokine release syndrome
    • One case of treatment-related grade 1 graft versus host disease, or GvHD, which resolved with topical treatment
Cell selection algorithm

Our cell selection algorithm was developed through over a decade of clinical experience at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) treating a variety of cancers and infections. The algorithm identifies the most appropriate T-cell lines in our library for any individual patient, based on matching certain key immune characteristics to the unique immune profile of each patient.

Precision Targeting

Our T-cell immunotherapy platform currently comprises two complimentary technologies:

  • Our first technology, licensed from MSK, creates T-cells broadly targeted to recognize EBV and CMV viral antigens, and the tumor associated antigen, Wilms tumor 1 (WT1).  The specific product candidates developed using this technology are ATA129, ATA230, and ATA520
  • A complementary T-cell technology, licensed from QIMR Berghofer, uses selective antigen targeting to create T-cells targeted for specific EBV, CMV, HPV, and BK viral antigens that may be important in certain diseases. The specific product candidates using this technology are ATA188, ATA621, ATA368, and ATA274