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Candel Therapeutics, UPenn Partner on Cell Therapy, Engineered Virus Combinations for Solid Cancers

NEW YORK – Candel Therapeutics said on Wednesday it has partnered with the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cellular Immunotherapies to improve solid tumor CAR T-cell therapies.

The collaboration will use Candel's enLIGHTEN Discovery Platform to study novel viral immunotherapies with the potential to strengthen UPenn's autologous CAR T-cell therapies for solid tumors.

The partners aim to study the combination of herpes simplex virus (HSV) vectors — which will contain transgenes based on the enLIGHTEN platform — and UPenn's investigational CAR T-cell therapies in solid tumor models. According to Needham, Massachusetts-based Candel, these engineered viruses can break down barriers to CAR T-cell therapy effectiveness in solid tumors.

"The solid tumor microenvironment presents numerous challenges to effective cell therapy including stromal barriers, impaired T-cell trafficking and function, poor T-cell expansion and persistence, and overall suppressive biological milieu," Neil Sheppard, director of the T Cell Engineering Lab at UPenn, said in a statement. "We are excited to work with Candel to address each of the challenges posed by the solid tumor microenvironment simultaneously, which represents a new approach to immunotherapy."

Both Candel and UPenn will retain the rights to their respective programs and the rights to bring these therapeutic combinations into clinical trials for patients with solid tumors.