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July 8, 2020

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July 8, 2020

Lion TCR was featured in the Business Times “Fighting Covid-19 with local innovations”

SINGAPORE, Jul. 8, 2020 — Lion TCR was featured in the Business Times article “Fighting Covid-19 with local innovations” dated 7 July 2020.

Read more in the link here: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sme/fighting-covid-19-with-local-innovations

Lion TCR

A potential treatment for Covid-19 is in the works at Singapore’s own Lion TCR, involving a method that could confer an added benefit of longer-term immunity through its use of T-cells from a patient’s own immune system to combat the virus.

The company has a technology platform to characterize and use T-cell receptors (TCRs) which recognize viruses. (Characterising TCRs involves isolating and identifying them, and testing their function.)

It is currently working on TCRs specific to SARS-CoV-2, and will select promising candidates from these TCRs for further tests until a successful candidate is found. The candidate will then be used to “train” T-cells to target and destroy SARS-CoV-2 infected cells after being re-infused into a patient’s body.

This method has been used to treat hepatitis B virus-related liver cancer, and Lion TCR is hopeful that it will be successful in treating Covid-19 too.

“The main focus of therapeutic strategies for Covid-19 have been on vaccines that induce antibody responses, the development of neutralising antibodies, or repurposing antiviral drugs and steroids to treat viral replication and the severe symptoms some patients experience,” said director of lead development Wai Lu-En.

“Hence, a major hurdle of using engineered T-cells or even TCRs is the clinical understanding that T-cell responses are equally or perhaps more important for sustaining prolonged immunity to the disease. We see potential for our technology to be an alternative novel therapeutic for Covid-19.”

Dr Wai noted that studies in SARS and MERS patients have found that T-cells play an important role in viral protection, and similar data for SARS-CoV-2 looks promising. She added that Lion TCR is working closely with academic partners to identify ways to use SARS-CoV-2 TCRs in other treatment strategies.

“We are still in the preliminary stage of characterising SARS-CoV-2 specific TCRs, but we hope to have some interesting preclinical data in the next six months,” she said.