SINGAPORE, Apr. 6, 2020 — LION TCR joins the efforts to develop new strategies for protection and treatment in COVID-19.
Infection with SARS coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, has now spread in most countries around the world, resulting in a global health crisis.
Lion TCR has been promoting and developing engineered T cells for the treatment of virus-related cancers and viral infection (e.g. Hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma). Lion TCR’s main technology consists of the isolation and characterisation of T cell receptors (TCR) able to recognize fragments of viral proteins presented on the surface of infected or cancer cells. Lion TCR then uses these TCRs to engineer T cells (cells of the human immune system) that are then able to selectively recognize and lyse the virus-infected target cells.
To aid the COVID-19 pandemic response, Lion TCR has decided to use its technology platform to isolate and characterise new T cell receptors specific for SARS-CoV-2 that can be used to engineer T cells capable of detecting and recognising SARS-CoV-2 infected cells.
Recent studies in animal models and in patients infected with MERS-CoV, a coronavirus responsible for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), has shown that T cells play an important role in viral protection. Lion TCR will start to characterise whether the T cell receptors specific for SARS-CoV (the etiological agent of SARS) present in their library have the ability to cross-recognise SARS-CoV-2. Lion TCR then plans to expand their existing library of virus-specific TCRs to include new SARS-CoV-2 specific TCR.
Dr Lu-En Wai, Director of Lead Development in Lion TCR, said: “We are excited to start this new project that fits with our company’s motto “WE HUNT VIRUSES”, and contributes to the global efforts to combat COVID-19. We are planning to produce a broad variety of SARS-CoV-2 specific T cells that can be a great research tool to better understand the efficacy of T cell immunity against this new virus. These SARS-CoV-2 specific T cells might also become a new form of prophylactic or therapeutic treatment.”