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Tactiva Therapeutics: ESD announces launch of innovative immunotherapy biotech company based in Buffalo

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Fri, Feb 3rd 2017 07:10 pm

Roswell Park spinoff Tactiva Therapeutics LLC will create jobs and develop new cancer therapies

Empire State Development has announced the launch of Tactiva Therapeutics LLC, a company that aims to develop the next generation of cancer immunotherapies. The new biotech company spun off from Roswell Park Cancer Institute is projected to create 18 jobs over the next five years as it develops some of the most promising concepts in the growing field of cancer immunotherapy and accelerates the timeline for getting beneficial therapies to patients.

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function.

"The new biotech company spun off from Roswell Park Cancer Institute showcases the potential for New York innovation to impact lives around the world," Lt. Gov. Hochul said during an announcement Friday. "Tactiva Therapeutics, is a perfect example of how government, business and academia can join forces to accomplish great things, including creating more jobs for Western New York."

"We've been excited about immunotherapy for a long time, because of its great potential in treating cancer and improving quality of life for cancer patients," said Roswell Park President and CEO Candace Johnson, Ph.D. "Tactiva has developed a unique approach that shows great promise, advancing one of our key goals: to develop our best ideas and get them quickly to the patients who can benefit most from them."

Tactiva, a Start-Up NY company, will pursue and expand concepts originating from Roswell Park's Center for Immunotherapy. Located within the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, immediately adjacent to Roswell Park laboratories and research support facilities, the company will create employment opportunities within the life sciences, and develop new therapies designed to give cancer patients better, more effective treatment options.

Tactiva's lead platform is a unique approach to adoptive cell transfer (ACT), a form of immunotherapy in which a patient's own immune cells are drawn from blood, genetically engineered, multiplied and injected back into the patient in order to launch a powerful attack against cancer. Tactiva's novel therapies use particular types of immune cells and cell reengineering processes that have never been employed before, in a way that may prove beneficial for patients with many different kinds of cancer.

"We're using fundamental principles of how the immune system works to enhance the body's own ability to attack and eliminate cancer cells," says Tactiva's co-founder and chief medical officer, Kunle Odunsi, M.D., Ph.D. He's deputy director, chair of gynecologic oncology, and Center for Immunotherapy executive director at Roswell Park. "We're making the two main types of immune cells work together in a way that has never been tried before, and which we believe will have long-lasting effects for patients with some of the most persistent, hard-to-treat cancers."

Tactiva plans to initiate clinical trials in ovarian, pancreatic, lung, prostate and other hard-to-treat cancers within the next year, making this novel platform available to patients for the first time. Preclinical studies suggest the Tactiva platform may be an effective approach for treating several different solid and liquid tumors, including some ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, lung, esophageal, melanoma and sarcoma cancers, as well as some forms of multiple myeloma.

The foundational concepts that Tactiva will develop were established in large part thanks to grants to Odunsi and his team, totaling $25 million from the National Cancer Institute and New York State Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM).

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Roswell Park, one of the nation's leading comprehensive cancer care centers, is uniquely positioned to lead the advancement and delivery of personalized medicine, and is a notable example of Western New York's thriving health and life sciences industry cluster that is driving growth in the region."

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