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New Company Achilles Therapeutics Formed to Advance Personalized Immunotherapies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Syncona and Cancer Research Technology announced today that they have partnered to form a new company, Achilles Therapeutics, which will design and advance therapies that target truncal tumor neoantigens.

Syncona led a funding round — along with the CRT Pioneer Fund, and the University College London Technology Fund — which brought in £13.2 million ($17.5 million) to support the new firm.

Achilles will build upon research from University College London and Francis Crick Institute researchers, who were involved in early discoveries of the role tumor neoantigens play in priming an individual's immune cells to attack their cancer.

As part of the agreement to form the new company, CRT will receive equity milestones and royalties from products developed and commercialized by Achilles. This revenue will then be shared with UCL and the Crick.

Achilles also has the exclusive right to develop and commercialize neoantigen technologies arising from the Cancer Research UK-led TRACERx study, which has been tracking the clonal evolution and response to treatment of tumors in 850 non-small cell lung cancer patients via sequencing of multiple tissue biopsies and blood-based tumor DNA.

Charles Swanton, Achilles' scientific founder and a group leader at the Crick, said in a statement that the company's work "could provide a truly personalized approach to lung cancer therapy by targeting cell surface markers that are specific to each patient and present on all cancer cells rather than just a subset."

"We hope to create a new and kinder treatment for this hard-to-treat disease that results in around 36,000 patient deaths each year in the UK," he added.