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From left to right: Víctor Díaz and Pablo Menéndez. Image/ OneChain Immunotherapeutics.

OneChain wins the Joan Roget Award for the best Knowledge Transfer Success Story

The clinical-stage biotechnology company OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI), based in the Barcelona Science Park and focused on the development of CAR-T candidates for the treatment of oncological diseases, has been awarded in the 2nd edition of the Joan Roget Knowledge Transfer Awards in the category of ‘Transfer Success Story’. The spinoff, founded by the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, ICREA and Dr. Pablo Menéndez, is part of the first generation of companies accelerated in the BCN Health Booster. In just 3 years since its creation, OCI has raised 9.7 M€ in investment funds, as well as bringing its first therapy to patients in a world-first clinical trial.

The award ceremony for this second edition of the Joan Roget Knowledge Transfer Awards 2023 -granted by the Department of Research and Universities of the Catalan Government through the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI)-  held on Tuesday 28 November, was attended by the Vice-President of the Parliament of Catalonia, Alba Vergés i Bosch, and the general director of Knowledge Transfer and Society of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Laia Arnal.

These awards recognise individuals, projects and entities that have demonstrated the greatest potential in their contributions, with a significant assessment of the impact achieved during their research career, the ability to bring their work to practical application and also the degree of connection with the potential users of the knowledge generated. The PIKSEL project of the Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE) and the Department of Territory of the Generalitat has been awarded the best ‘Collaborative R&D&I Work’; the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) has won the award in the category of the ‘Promotion of Knowledge Transfer’; and OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI) has been recognised as the best ‘Knowledge Transfer Success Story’.

The award was received by Dr. Pablo Menéndez, OCI co-founder & CSO, and principal investigator of Stem Cell Biology, Developmental Leukaemia and Immunotherapy group at the Josep Carreras Institute, and by Dr. Víctor Díaz, company’s Research director.

In his speech, Menéndez thanked the unconditional support of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute and the Josep Carreras Foundation, as well as the OCI investors: the venture capital firms Invivo Partners, Nara Capital and Clave Capital, and the CDTI (Innvierte Program), a public entity under the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI) was born in 2020 with the aim of developing innovative CAR-T therapies in oncology. Today, three years later, the company has managed to raise 9.7 million euros in investment funds and bring its first therapy into the world’s first trial with CAR-T technology for patients with a rare and poor-prognosis subtype of T-cell leukaemia (cortical T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia) who do not respond to currently available treatments.

This CART-Tis directed against a new CD1a target, a receptor that is in the membrane of the tumor cells of this subtype of T-line leukemia. For T-type leukemias, there are already other CAR-T that attack specific antigens, but it has been seen that they are very toxic because they not only kill leukemic T cells, but also kill healthy T cells. This CD1a CAR-T attacks only leukemic cells that express the CD1a receptor without harming healthy cells.

The clinical trial is open and expects to receive patients from all over due to the nature of this rare type of cancer. It is done in Catalonia thanks to the collaboration of Hospital Clínic, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and the Blood and Tissue Bank.

In parallel, OneChain is working on 5 other projects to develop new CAR T therapies for the treatment of B and T leukemias as well as for the treatment of glioblastoma, a highly aggressive brain tumor with a fatal prognosis.

» For further information: OCI website [+]