Aug 3, 2022
David Fontana is the Chief Business and Strategy Officer at Umoja Biopharma which is using a cocktail of their TumorTags to kill solid tumors. This in vivo technology has the potential to streamline the gene therapy process by driving down costs, simplifying logistics, and increasing accessibility.
David explains, "With in vivo, we don't deal with cells per se. We deal with cells in the body. So I'll focus on what we do. We have a very proprietary technology called VivoVec, which is a delivery system to deliver RNA through lentiviral vector particles. Our secret sauce is the ability to surface engineer these VivoVec cells to make them more specific, it's called tropism, to drive them to certain cell types. We're focusing on the T-cells, but also to transduce this RNA message, so all we're delivering is the components of an RNA message to get transformed into the target T-cells of the human. We're basically taking those T-cells and making them better killer cells by implanting these payloads, as we're calling them, which would really enable the body to create these cells in vivo and not have to deliver any cells ex vivo."
"That's where we have a couple of interesting approaches at Umoja. The first one is our technology called TumorTags. These are really specific tags that hit the tumors. They bind with the tumors, they get absorbed into tumors, and then represent themselves on the surface in the small molecules, so they last there quite a long time. What our in vivo technology allows us to do is to bind to those receptors and basically form the T-cell synapse, then thus kill the tumor. The nice thing we like about our tumor tech technologies is we can use one in vivo CAR, so one called the universal CAR, and that will bind with several TumorTags."
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