Company Spotlight: Immunocore
Published on 25 May 2022
For the latest in our regular spotlight series, we recently caught up with the team at biotechnology company, Immunocore, following their landmark achievements gaining FDA and European Commission approval for their T-cell receptor therapy.
Formally founded in 2008, Immunocore’s roots can be traced back to T-cell receptor (TCR) research at the University of Oxford. The team has since evolved into a global, pioneering, commercial-stage TCR biotechnology company, developing and commercialising a new generation of transformative medicines to combat cancer, infection and autoimmune diseases. Their offices can be found across the US, Europe and, of course, at Milton Park where their research and development laboratories are based.
What does Immunocore do?
Immunocore’s work is based around T-cells (pictured below) which are white blood cells that play an important role in the body’s adaptive immune system and are found in the blood. TCRs refer to the proteins found on the surface of T-cells which help the body to fight against infections by recognising diseased and infected cells and triggering an immune response.
The company’s over-arching aims are to overcome the limitations of the natural immune system and enhance current therapeutic approaches to these by using human TCRs. This is done using their innovative ImmTAX technology platform (Immune Mobilizing Monoclonal TCRs Against X disease).
This technology utilises the properties of specially designed and engineered ImmTAX molecules that can trigger a patient’s own T-cells to recognise and kill infected or cancerous cells present in their body. Conversely, in the case of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, the T-cells work to suppress the immune response.
Global TCR therapy approval
After almost two decades of research and development, in January this year Immunocore received approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States for their first medicine based on their clinical trial data – a huge global achievement. This was soon followed by approval in Europe by the European Commission in April.
These approvals are not only significant milestones in the company’s own history but have paved the way for Immunocore to become the first ever company to launch a TCR therapeutic in the commercial market.
Reflecting on achievements and looking to the future
From the company’s early beginnings at Milton Park, to now fostering a 400-strong global workforce, Immunocore has grown from a small research and development firm to a fully-integrated commercial biotechnology company listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
Dr Bahija Jallal, CEO at Immunocore, explains more: “This year, the FDA and European Commission approvals served as important validation processes for our pioneering technology, and we are now seeking to build upon these successes.
“The approvals and launch of our TCR therapy will stand us in great stead to explore further breakthrough discoveries in the biotechnology field.”
Immunocore’s next mission is to use this same TCR technology to develop novel treatments to treat a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions currently under-served.
Why Milton Park?
Milton Park’s commitment and strong orientation to research and innovation within the science and technology industries was a key factor in Immunocore’s decision to base themselves here.
Dr Jallal adds: “We were keen to position ourselves within the broader scientific community, both figuratively and physically, as we recognise the advantage of feeling inspired and supported by likeminded companies within the industry.
“We felt that Milton Park was the ideal location to allow us to do this successfully, as well as being a welcoming, peaceful and creative place for our employees to come and work.”