Flagship Pioneering Merges Sister Companies to Form Repertoire Immune Medicines
Repertoire Immune Medicines officially launched this morning following the merger of two complementary Flagship Pioneering companies, Torque Therapeutics and Cogen Immune Medicines. The new company is focused on tapping into the powers of the immune system to address numerous diseases.
Repertoire is helmed by John Cox, who most recently led Biogen spinout Bioverativ, a hemophilia-focused company snapped up by Sanofi in 2018 for $11.6 billion. In an interview with BioSpace this morning, Cox said the joining of the two companies will create what he believes will be “the” company in immune medicines. The reason, he said, is because of the abilities the company has to decode the immune synapses. Particularly, Repertoire has the ability to decode human subject-derived antigen-T cell receptor (TCR) codes from healthy or diseased tissues. For decades, researchers have understood the importance that T cells play in the immune response of the body. Now, Cox said, they can finally see what the T cells see in the body when they are engaged. Once you understand the immune code, you can design better medications to treat certain diseases, Cox said.
Repertoire is harnessing the power of its DECODE technology that allows for in-depth characterization of the immune synapse with unprecedented precision. This allows its team to understand the presentation of antigens in disease, de-orphan T cell receptors in the context of single-cell phenotypes, and curate vast amounts of data to enable deep-learning computational prediction models, the company said in its announcement. Through the coupling of single-cell technologies with cellular and acellular antigen libraries, the company decodes CD4+ and CD8+ TCR-antigen specificity across selected T cell subsets from patients and from healthy individuals, Repertoire added.
“These complexes dictate T cell activation or exhaustion, and their immunological codes can be used to design and clinically test a multitude of unprecedented therapeutic products based on precedented and specific mechanisms of T cell killing of antigen-presenting tumor cells or infected cells,” the company said in its announcement.
This morning, Repertoire pointed to three discovery technologies that are at the heart of its immune synapse deciphering platform: MCR -- proprietary cell-based reporter assays to experimentally quantify MHC-specific peptide display and de-orphan TCR clonotypes across virtually unlimited peptide-MHC libraries; CIPHER -- proprietary MHC multimer-based assays to detect and measure TCR clonotypes, peptide-MHC reactivity and phenotypes on a single-cell level; and CAPTAN -- internally developed deep-learning computational tools to classify platform hits and leverage large datasets to predict TCR reactivity beyond what is currently possible.
Decoding immune synapses relevant to a particular disease allows the company’s team to deploy the molecular codes that can rationally design new immune medications, Cox said. He said if you can imagine being able to identify and extract T cells from a patient who has recovered from a disease or infection of some kind, it puts you “in a position to develop the optimal therapeutics.”
“It opens a whole new category of medicines,” Cox said.
Currently, Repertoire has one oncology asset in a dose-escalation trial for an autologous T cell product that was inherited from Torque, a company where Cox was already involved as CEO. The asset, TRQ15-01 uses Reportoire’s proprietary PRIME platform to prepare a patient’s T cells and combines that with its TETHER platform capabilities to link an IL-15 nanogel immune modulator to the T cells.
When Torque and Cogen began to talk about the possibilities of combining due to their complementary nature, Cox said it was clear to see that, in this case, “one plus one reached a number that was much greater than two.” With the combination of the companies, Repertoire has approximately 120 employees and has about $220 million in funding. Cox said as they scale over the next year or so, they will further finance the company.
“Right now we’re a healthy size and built to execute on the platforms that we’ve put in place,” he said.