Case Western Reserve University has completed an exclusive license agreement with Atlanta-based RORA Biologics Inc. (RORA-Bio) for intellectual property to develop new therapies to treat HIV and certain kinds of cancer.
The agreement gives RORA-Bio exclusive international rights to T-cell memory stem-cell (RORA cells) technologies developed by Rafick Sekaly, formerly a professor at the CWRU School of Medicine, and co-director of the Center for AIDS Research Proteomics and Systems Biology Core.
Sekaly and colleagues have pioneered groundbreaking discoveries in HIV disease progression, T-cell memory and HIV-persistence mechanisms.
RORA cells are a newly discovered, durable T-cell population associated with positive clinical outcomes in patients. Chimeric antigen receptortherapy (CAR-T) is a way for T cells—a type of white blood cell—to be altered in a lab to find and destroy cancer cells, according to the American Cancer Society. RORA-Bio is using RORA cells to make novel, “first-in-class” CAR-T drugs with potential to direct more persistent attacks against tumor cells.
Gene-edited RORA cells made to resist infection are being tested for potential to offer long-term protection against the virus.
The exclusive worldwide license is in exchange for equity and other payments for products developed with the technology.
“We are eager for RORA-Bio to develop cell-based therapies for HIV and cancer using CWRU’s technology,” said Stacy Fening, of Case Western Reserve’s Office of Technology Transfer, who managed the transaction. “The license, through a series of product development milestones, drives RORA-Bio to do just that.”
“This license with Case Western Reserve University is key to helping us facilitate development and test new CAR-T and anti-HIV drugs that are potentially more long-lasting and with less side-effects than current therapies,” said RORA-Bio Interim CEO Randy Berholtz.