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Johns Hopkins spinout raises $32.5M in Series B to advance new class of cancer therapy 

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 20th, 2018

Johns Hopkins spinout WindMIL Therapeutics has closed a $32.5 million Series B round that will support a new class of cancer therapy based on a novel cellular approach that the company calls “truly differentiated.”

The Baltimore-based start-up is using marrow infiltrating lymphocytes, or MILs, which are made from

memory T cells residing in the bone marrow. The company has its roots in the labs of Johns Hopkins professors Ivan Borrello and Kim Noonan.

While the approach is first being studied as a treatment for multiple myeloma, WindMIL is using its new funding to acquire more data and potentially identify other types of cancer to target, says CEO Brian Halak. Investigators will focus on two types of MILs — unmodified, after having been reactivated and expanded from the memory T cells — and genetically modified MILs. The unmodified version is being studied as treatment for solid tumors, while the modified version will be used as a cell source in CAR-T therapies.

The big advantage of the MILs over traditional CAR-T cells is that they have native T cell receptors that recognize different elements of the tumor, requiring no genetic engineering before being reintroduced in the patient fight cancer, says Halak.

That’s also why MILs can be more effective in solid tumors than other CAR-T therapies, he adds. “With an unmodified MIL, we do not need to pre-identify tumor-specific antigen,” he says. “The body has already done that.”

WindMIL ia also looking to create MIL CARs — based on memory T cells rather than peripheral blood lymphocytes — which they believe will be more toxic to cancer cells with a more persistent effect.

Source: Endpoints News

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