First incorporated in 2018, CytoMed Therapeutics is a start-up spin-off from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Its main focus is to leverage on their proprietary technologies to develop “off-the-shelf” immunotherapeutics for a wide range of cancers.
Since the first discovery by scientists to derive embryonic stem cells from mouse embryos in the 1980s, the potential of stem cells in scientific research and disease therapy has progressed in an unprecedented way. Following this discovery was the next breakthrough in stem cell research, notably by Shinya Yamanaka and his team in Kyoto, Japan. In 2006, he announced to the scientific world how he successfully reprogrammed adult cells back to pluripotency to become induced pluripotent stem cells. The ingredients behind this process were the use of four genes— Myc, Oct3/4, Sox2 and Klf4 — which code for transcription factors enabled this conversion.
Today, scientists have found ways through the foundations of the initial discovery of stem cells and the work of Shinya Yamanaka to leverage on the immense potential of the properties of stem cells for disease treatment.
CytoMed Therapeutics, a Singapore-based company is working on using stem cells to provide “off-the-shelf” immunotherapy against various cancers. The company started out in 2018 and is based off the research of A*STAR researchers since 2007. Its strong scientific base established the three main technology platforms that CytoMed Therapeutics offers.
CytoMed Therapeutics main technologies revolve around the following three platforms:
1. Donor blood cell-based platform
Isolation of mononuclear cells from a blood draw sample to create CAR-ϒδT cells. These cells have the potential for applicable for use by many patients for more affordable, “off-the-shelf” product. The creation of the CAR-ϒδT cells is through mRNA electroporation.
2. Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based platform
Cytomed Therapeutics uses its iPSC generation technology for reprogramming of mononuclear cells in blood to produce blood cell-derived iPSCs. The proprietary protocol is then applied to these cells to develop ϒδT cells and natural killer (NK) cells.
3. Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based platform
MSCs are sourced from the umbilical cord to be used for differentiation to other cells and cryopreserved until it is required. These cells, CytoMed believes to have the potential for development into an “off-the-shelf” product for cancer therapy.
One subsidiary of CytoMed Therapeutics, iPSCbank, provides services for banking of one’s peripheral blood mononuclear cells, induced pluripotent stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells for future use. Cell are isolated through a blood draw sample and with consent from the customer.
CytoMed Therapeutics is also actively seeking collaboration with medical institutions and doctors; as well as research opportunities with cancer research centres across Asia Pacific. On 26 February 2019, CytoMed Therapeutics together with Clinical Research Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue advancements in development of medicines specifically for cell therapy and cancer research. [APBN]