TITLE: “ΙΝΝΟVATIVE BLOCKING NANOBODIES FOR LCK INHIBITION AND THEIR VALIDATION AS “SAFETY SWITCHES” IN T-CELL IMMUNOTHERAPΥ”
The selective and controllable inhibition of T-lymphocyte function is crucial not only for the design of personalized treatments against T-cell dependent pathologies (e.g. autoimmunity, T-cell leukemias) but it can also comprise an invaluable tool in the fields of organ transplantation (e.g. graft rejection, GvHD) and T-cell immunotherapies (e.g. CAR-T cells). Especially for the latter, the pharmaceutical industry is intensely seeking strategies to suppress CAR-T cell undesirable hyperactivation, often with fatal consequences, by introducing “safety switch” genes.
The current project is based on the formation of a partnership between two research groups in the Medical School of the University of Patras and the biotech company ProtATonce Ltd. with the ultimate goal of evaluating the usage of blocking nanobodies (developed through a collaborative effort in the laboratories of the two research groups) against the tyrosine kinase Lck as a novel, and the first in Greece, pharmacological reagent for the targeted inhibition of T-cell function.
Upon completion of the project the partnership aims to deliver a fully characterized, and the first in Greece, selective and efficient Lck inhibitor ready for clinical and commercial exploitation. As an immediate target the partnership will develop a clear-cut business plan for the clinical application of the product as a “safety switch” in immunotherapies employing genetically engineered T-cells and then move on to the strategic design of its utilization as an administered drug.