Immunochina: Using high-tech ways to declare war against leukemia

Leukemia is a horrifying word. In China, leukemia has resulted in the highest cancer incidence and death rate among children. Due to its relapse and drug resistance, a large number of leukemia patients are in urgent need of a more efficacious and durable new therapy. In recent years, studies have found that Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell Immunotherapy has therapeutic effect in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. CAR-T therapy can activate the T cells, which helps to accurately identify and attack cancer cells. This revolutionizes and improves the efficacy and safety, which brings hope for those leukemia patients who requires treatment.

The 2009 class Doctoral students He Ting, Lu Xin’an and others from the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University teamed up to dedicate themselves to the development and promotion of the latest generation of immune cell therapy CAR-T. They founded a commercial company and are speeding up on the road to curing leukemia.

A mere two years ago, He Ting was only a cancer biology research student. During the second half of 2014, He Ting and two other partners started their experiment and research in CAR-T. Their respective fields are tumor modeling, drug development and immunology. They gathered up RMB 200,000 and rented a lab to use immunotherapy and the use of CAR-T technology to treat late stage cancer. CAR-T therapy is the emergence of a major breakthrough in the treatment of late stage cancer. Although this treatment is still in the experimental stage, gathered data has been prominent and is currently a hot topic in the field of cancer treatment.

In only six months, He Ting and the others developed technologies surrounding areas in vector construction, T-cells isolation, active verification and culturing. Then, they were surprised to find that cell experiments on cancer treatment works well and some of their data outperforms the US ones. Since their establishment in 2014, they have carried out a variety of research and development of CAR-T therapy within just little more than a year. Furthermore, they’ve established a number of key technical projects and gained several patents.

However, what they are facing now are technical issues from therapy in the front-line. At this time, Tsinghua’s x-Lab that focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship offered their support. “By joining x-Lab, we are able to have strong support in R&D as well as in legal, patents, financing and much more,” said He Ting, “For us technology nutters and workaholics, we undoubtedly need such support in changing technology into a business model.” In the end, they received the top award in the Third Tsinghua “President’s Cup”. They’ve also received support from the government sector and the investment community. He Ting and 20 other like-minded partners founded Immunochina in 2015 and began to promote this medical technology so that the average patient can have access to it.

Now, He Ting and his colleagues have mastered the CAR-T treatment technology. Under the same conditions, their technology is twice as effective in the eradication of cancer cells when compared with those in the States. When it comes to the late recurrence of leukemia IM19, clinical trials of the CAR-T treatment are now being carried out in several top hospitals. Patients who have undergone such treatment have achieved complete remission after treatment. In the future, He Ting’s goal is to: save lives. He wants every cancer patient to be cured. Such new technologies bring hope to cancer patients.

    Contributor

    Spotlight Group

     

    Originality

    Spotlight Group

     

    Text

    Weiyuan Min

     

    Image

    Guo Xiang

     

    Composition

    Zhao Xin, Yin Xia, Zhang Geming, Zhang Zheng

     

    Design

    Wang Yin, Zhang Ying, Guo Jie