Immuneel Therapeutics announces India’s first phase II patient trials for CAR-T cancer therapies

Our Bureau, BengaluruWednesday, June 22, 2022, 14:15 Hrs  [IST]

Immuneel Therapeutics  India’s leading biotech start-up focused on creating access to Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell Therapy (CAR-T) and other cellular immunotherapies for the management and treatment of cancers, has begun patient dosing in a CAR-T trial named IMAGINE.
This phase II trial is the first industry sponsored CAR-T trial in India and is now actively enrolling patients at Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bengaluru. The company was founded in 2019 by Biocon founder and chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, a US oncologist and author of the Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, and Dr. Kush Parmar.
In 2021, the company had established the first cGMP-approved integrated cell therapy development and manufacturing facility at the Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre.
 “IMAGINE trial marks an important step forward for us in delivering transformational cell-based immunotherapies to patients, truly enabling our patients with potential cure. IMAGINE opens a world of possibilities, said Dr Arun Anand, director & COO,  Immuneel Therapeutics.
CAR-T therapies, previously not available in India, has  shown promising results for patients who have exhausted all other means of treatment in a range of blood cancers. These therapies are available internationally at US$ 350,000+ per dose, making the IMAGINE trial the first step towards bringing affordable treatments to patients in India. The IMAGINE trial is funded by Immuneel and will include up to 24 paediatric and adult cancer patients. Immuneel has exclusive rights to ARI-0001/IMN-003A (a CD-19 CAR-T cell therapy) from Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer in Spain to develop, manufacture and commercialize in India via technology transfer.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, co-founder & director, Immuneel Therapeutics reacted, “This milestone is significant in building an eco-system to accelerate and make cell therapies accessible to patients in India, in line with global standards at affordable and disruptive costs. Personalized cell therapies are in their nascency the world over and we have an opportunity to differentiate through partnerships and cutting-edge innovation.”
CAR-T cell therapy in the US started a decade ago and has proven to be advantageous for patients who relapse following leukaemia or lymphoma treatment despite its cost which is beyond the means of most people, including Indians.
With Immuneel setting up India’s first integrated center and making CAR-T therapy here at our hospital, we hope to reach thousands of patients in need, said Dr Devi Shetty, chairman, Narayana Health.
Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Co-founder & Director, Immuneel Therapeutics noted, “This trial will demonstrate the success of CAR-T cell therapy in cancer treatment and give hope to many patients in need."
“IMAGINE has opened up doors to a second chance at life with potential cure, both for children and adults with terminal blood cancers, saids Dr. Sharat Damodar and Dr Sunil Bhat at Narayana Health and IMAGINE’s Principal Investigators.
In April, this year, Immuneel successfully raised close to US$ 15 million in a Series A financing round, co-led by Eight Roads Ventures, True North Fund VI LLP and F-Prime Capital, along-with contributions from other existing investors. These funds will enable the company to advance its development pipeline and scale.
Commenting on the funding, Dr Kush M Parmar, co-founder, Immuneel Therapeutics added, “As we advance our lead programmes, this financing will also allow us to continue building a committed and quality enterprise for global innovators to consider partnering with us to enable access for patients in the region.