Chimeric Therapeutics Limited (ASX:CHM) CEO and Managing Director Jennifer Chow provides an update on clinical trial progression, and discusses recent agreements with WuXi Advanced Therapies and Be The Match BioTherapies.
Melissa Darmawan: Thanks for tuning in to Finance News. I’m Melissa Darmawan. Here to talk to us today about Chimeric Therapeutics (ASX:CHM) is Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Chow. Jennifer, great to have you in the Sydney studio.
Jennifer Chow: I am so excited to actually be here and be able to meet you in person, Melissa.
Melissa Darmawan: Likewise, likewise. Welcome, ove having you here.
Jennifer Chow: Thank you.
Melissa Darmawan: So, remind our viewers what cancers Chimeric is actually targeting.
Jennifer Chow: Yeah, that’s important, Melissa. So we’re actually looking at moving into, over the course of all of our assets, more than ten different types of cancer. Right now, our chlorotoxin CAR T is in glioblastoma, and so a horrible, fatal type of brain cancer. We’re looking to expand our chlorotoxin program, so we’ll also be looking at metastatic melanoma, and then we’ll be looking at a couple of other diseases with that trial as well. Our CDH-17 CAR T, we’re actually taking into gastrointestinal tumours. And so colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, gastroesophageal cancer, and neuroendocrine tumours as well. And then our CORE-NK platform has been used already in blood cancer, so acute myeloid leukaemia, and as well in colorectal cancer. And as we go forward, we’ll be looking at exploring that in other tumour types as well.
Melissa Darmawan: Given the plate that you guys have at the moment, is there an update, a really high-level update, on how those are going?
Jennifer Chow: Yeah, absolutely. So we now have, in a very short period of time, we have seven assets in development. We now have two clinical trials — obviously the CORE-NK trial that’s read out. We have our chlorotoxin clinical trial that is ongoing. And then we are planning to have eight clinical trials by next year.
Melissa Darmawan: What does CORE-NK actually mean?
Jennifer Chow: So, what it is, it’s an off-the-shelf platform, which means that we use cells from a healthy donor to make this type of therapy. And the “NK” part stands for “natural killer”, and so that is really when we’re using natural killer cells from a healthy donor. The “CORE” acronym actually talks to the fact that this particular platform has already been clinically validated. And what we’ve seen very recently that was so exciting to us, Melissa, was Phase 1 clinical data. First and foremost was we saw safety for the patients, which is obviously the objective of the trial. So, we were really, really happy to be able to see that the CORE-NK platform was safe for patients. But then, really excitingly, what we actually saw was we saw efficacy, particularly in blood cancers. So, we had three patients in that trial that had blood cancers that had acute myeloid leukaemia, which is quite a devastating disease. And all three of those patients were able to achieve disease stability, and one of those patients actually had a complete response. And that complete response means that essentially their disease was gone. And what we now know is that 15, 16 months later now, that patient remains in a complete response, and so their disease still has not come back.
Melissa Darmawan: Can you talk us through the difference between one of your other platforms or programs?
Jennifer Chow: A lot of what we are doing, and certainly the cell therapies that are currently approved on the market, are what’s called CAR T-cell therapies. So CAR T-cell therapies use T cells. Our platform, the CORE-NK, uses NK cells. So we have CAR T-cell therapies. We have our CDH-17 CAR T-cell and our chlorotoxin CAR T-cell as well. They use T-cell therapies, and they use what’s called an individualised process. So, instead of using cells that come from a healthy donor, our CAR T-cell therapies actually use a patient’s own cells. So, we take the blood from the patient, we ship it off to our manufacturing facility, we engineer it, and we send it back. So, it’s a little bit different, the two. One is a little bit more personalised, using T-cells. One is an off-the-shelf therapy that uses NK cells.
Melissa Darmawan: To add to all of this…
Jennifer Chow: Yes.
Melissa Darmawan:..I know that there was a feature story on Chimeric. I’m going to let you talk through the details.
Jennifer Chow: Yeah. And you know what? We were so thrilled. The feature story was about our CDH-17 CAR T, and it was in an incredibly prestigious scientific journal called Nature Cancer. And so that particular CAR T, we brought in our licence from the University of Pennsylvania. And the team, Dr Xianxin Hua, who leads the team, he was the inventor of that CAR T, they actually have been working on that for a decade, if you can believe that. And so they’ve spent the last decade really optimising and making that CAR T-cell perfect, and then testing it in models and in animals to make sure that it was also going to be safe. And so all of the work that they’ve done showing how they’ve optimised the CAR T and how safe it is was highlighted in Nature Cancer. And it really was very elegant work and very groundbreaking because this was the first time that there’s been a publication on a new antigen target that we know was expressed highly on cancer tissue, but also on healthy tissue. And Dr Hua and his team were able to show why it wasn’t affecting the healthy tissue. And so exciting for us, as we are working so closely with Dr Hua and his team to actually take that asset into clinic.
Melissa Darmawan: In some other news, I know that you recently entered a manufacturing deal with WuXi Advanced Technologies. Is that right?
Jennifer Chow: Yes, absolutely.
Melissa Darmawan: Talk us through it.
Jennifer Chow: Yeah. And you know what? That particular partnership and another one that we announced in similar timing with a group called Be The Match, they are crucially important for us, Melissa, because they allow us to actually be able to grow our programs. So before, with our chlorotoxin CAR T, the trial is being done in one centre, and so the manufacturing is in that centre as well. But what that does is it says one centre of manufacturing limits the number of patients that can actually be put into the trial because you can only manufacture so much in one small centre. And the other piece of it is, from a logistics perspective, all the patients had to go to that one centre because there was no way to move cells around the country. So, what we have right now is one manufacturing site that has 400,000 square foot capacity at WuXi. It’s in Pennsylvania. And that allows us to continue to add and grow the program so we can treat more and more patients. And the other group I mentioned, Be The Match BioTherapies, that announcement, they actually provide all the logistics for our trials. So, when I was describing to you a CAR T-cell therapy, and we take the patient’s cells, and then we move them to a manufacturing facility, Be The Match is the group that really does all of the shipping and logistics around that. So, both of those partnerships now, having them in place for us, is so important because it allows us to expand our clinical programs and move forward faster.
Melissa Darmawan: So, what is the outlook for the next six months?
Jennifer Chow: For the next six months, in terms of what we’re looking at being able to share with people, we’re really looking forward to being able to finish the Phase 1 chlorotoxin dose escalation trial. Past that, what we’re doing is we’re getting all of our other programs ready for clinic. So, the CDH-17 CAR T, the one that was in Nature Cancer, we’re getting that ready to file so that we can get into a Phase 1 clinical trial with that. We’re actually expanding the chlorotoxin program into metastatic melanoma, so we’re getting ready to open that Phase 1 clinical trial. And then, with our CORE-NK program, we’re actually looking to develop the clinical trials and start to build our CAR NK assets there. So, a lot more development work going on to really be able to head into ’23 with many more clinical trials and data coming.
Melissa Darmawan: Jennifer Chow, I’m looking forward to hearing from you in regards to these updates. It’s great to have you in Sydney. Safe travels back home.
Jennifer Chow: Thank you so much, Melissa. It was so wonderful to actually be here in person this time, and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to come back again soon.