OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI) is a spin-off company from The Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute. The aim of OCI is to develop new immuno-oncological therapeutic tools with various preclinical candidates, based on CAR–T technology for different tumours, such as cortical T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (coT-ALL), a rare subtype of leukaemia that mainly affects children, and which has a poor prognosis.
The spin-off was funded initially through a round of seed capital, amounting to €3,050,000, provided by Invivo Ventures, the Ministry of Industry, through CDTI-Innvierte, and the Josep Carreras Foundation, and it clearly makes the case for bringing the research carried out by Dr. Pablo Menéndez's group closer to patients. Dr. Mendez is an ICREA research professor and the scientific director at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute's Hospital Clínic-UB Campus.
Dr. Menéndez's group was the first in the world to develop and validate a CD1a specific CAR-T for coT-ALL. The study, published in the journal Blood, has so far been conducted with animal models using both cell lines and primary blasts derived from patients with coT-ALL. Preliminary results show that these CAR-T cells persist in vivo over the long term and retain their anti-leukaemia activity.
The creation of this spin-off marks a further step towards developing adoptive cell immunotherapy, such as CAR–T cell therapy.
Dr. Menéndez, founder of OCI and world renowned for his work in the field of childhood leukaemia, directs the Josep Carreras Institute's stem cell biology, leukaemia development and immunotherapy group. More than 180 of his studies have been published by the world's most prestigious scientific journals and, outstanding in his wide-ranging professional career is having been awarded the triennial ED Thomas Postdoctoral Fellowship grant, awarded by the Josep Carreras Foundation in 2006, as well as three grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC), the most important scientific funding organisation in Europe.