COVID-19 Resource Center
COVID-19 Resource Center
March 24, 2020
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AlloVir, Baylor collaborate to develop COVID-19 T-cell therapy

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Ann Leen

AlloVir, a clinical stage T-cell immunotherapy company, will work with Baylor College of Medicine to develop allogeneic, virus-specific T-cell therapy to combat COVID-19, according to a news release.

“Our objective is to develop a potent, coronavirus-targeted T-cell product that is safe for patients and has the potential to treat SARS-CoV-2 infections in immunocompromised individuals,” Ann Leen, PhD, cofounder and chief scientific officer at AlloVir and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, told Healio. “While we are still in the discovery phase, it is our objective to move things forward to the clinic as quickly and responsibly as possible.”

The T-cell therapy may also target other coronavirus strains, including SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and endemic coronaviruses that affect immunocompromised individuals. The therapy is intended to be used as a stand-alone treatment or incorporated into ALVR106, AlloVir’s investigational therapy that is designed to address other community-acquired respiratory viruses.

Leen emphasized that multiple, varied approaches are necessary to develop effective therapies for COVID-19.

 

“Given the predicted severity of the pandemic and the large number of high-risk/immunocompromised patients around the globe, we believe it is appropriate to pursue multiple approaches simultaneously in order to achieve the best outcomes for patients and society,” Leen said. “We are pleased to see so many biotech companies stepping up to explore different approaches to treat this and future outbreaks.”

In the wake of the rapid spread of COVID-19, research institutions around the world are working to swiftly develop therapies for the virus. Physicians are also repurposing old drugs, like remdesivir, to combat the virus.

Leen noted that AlloVir plans to work with regulatory bodies to ensure the therapy can advance to the clinical level as quickly as possible.

“We are working with a sense of urgency to gather patient blood samples to identify the naturally occurring, virus-specific T cells that play a major role in providing protection against this disease, thereby allowing us to apply our know-how to industrialize the preparation of potent, virus-specific T cells from healthy immune donors and advance to clinical studies as soon as possible,” Leen said. “We plan to work closely with regulatory agencies to understand the most rapid pathway to get a potential therapy to the people who need it.” – by Eamon Dreisbach

Disclosure: Leen is the cofounder and chief scientific officer of AlloVir.