Notch Therapeutics: Maximizing the Benefits of Cell Therapies

Over the last two decades, significant cancer research and therapy development has been focused on the immune system’s response, with cell therapies offering transformational benefits over existing standards of care. Where chemotherapies act on the cancerous tumours themselves, immunotherapies focus on harnessing immune cells to identify and destroy cancer cells directly.  


Today’s challenge for cell therapies 

Access to a uniform and unlimited supply of cells is a critical limiting factor in the development of cell therapies to treat cancer and many other diseases. Current therapeutic white blood cell (T cell) therapies require a complex, patient-specific and time-consuming manufacturing process to modify and alter a patient’s T cells. This approach can lead to delays and variability in the cells produced, negatively impacting patient outcomes.  

Notch Therapeutics – with operations in Vancouver, British Columbia, Toronto, Ontario, and Seattle, Washington – is working hard to change the game for cellular immunotherapies. The company’s proprietary technology platform enables the development of uniform, iPSC-derived T cells and other immune cells, from any source of pluripotent stem cells. These iPSC-derived cells are specifically engineered to address the underlying biology of complex disease systems. 

“Our platform unlocks the ability to generate T cells and other immune cells from renewable stem cell lines, simplifying manufacturing, and giving us the ability to produce immune cells at scale, without the use of animal components or feeder cell lines,” says David Main, Notch’s CEO and President.  


Precision control of notch signaling 

Induced pluripotent stem cells were first discovered in 2006 and are a type of master cell, able to produce any cell or tissue to repair the body, self-renew, and create endless copies of themselves. These cells can be cultured at scale and, in their undifferentiated state, represent a potentially limitless source of starting materials for the production of therapeutically relevant cells. Notch signaling is critical to the transformation of stem cells into mature T cells.  

Drawing on more than a century of milestones in stem cell and Notch signaling research, Notch has built a platform that enables precision control of cell fate during the differentiation and expansion of stem cells in suspension bioreactors. Notch leverages unprecedented control of notch signaling to achieve scale and reproducibility of complex T cell differentiation processes. The ability to deliver reliable notch signals to developing cells means Notch can take an engineering approach to solve major bottlenecks in iPSC-derived T cell manufacturing. 

“We believe control of notch signaling is the game-changer in cell manufacturing, and is what our company is named for,” Main continues. “Our technology enables sophisticated product design in a commercially compatible stem cell manufacturing process. This is going to lead to best-in-class products, ours and our customers’.” 


The path forward 

Notch has already attracted significant interest from companies and investors that view Notch’s technology platform as a path to commercialization for future generations of cell therapies. In 2019, Notch partnered with Allogene Therapeutics to apply Notch’s T cell production platform to develop CAR-targeted, iPSC-derived or natural killer (NK) therapies for hematologic cancer indications. And in 2020, the company closed an oversubscribed Series A financing. 

This year, Notch is focused on delivering a clinically representative process—including equipment, procedures, materials, and cell lines—to produce batches of T cells for in vivo testing. This is a critical step in Notch’s move towards Investigational New Drug (IND) studies.  

Despite the pandemic, the company has seen explosive growth over the last three years, now employing more than 90 people, 75% of whom work in the two Canadian offices.  

“We may be early-stage, but we have revolutionary science and technology,” Main continues. “And we have a world-class team, comprising some of the most innovate minds in preclinical science, advanced cell manufacturing, bioengineering, and systems biology. All of us, laser-focused on solving the complex challenge of making cellular immunotherapies mainstream.” 

If you are interested in opportunities to become one of Notch’s collaborative, motivated, and ingenious team members, view current job openings:  

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        Article provided by Notch Therapeutics