New funding for Captain T Cell

The MDC start-up project “Captain T Cell” has been awarded several million Euros from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of its GO-Bio funding initiative. The aim of the project is to develop new cancer-fighting T-cell therapies.

Dr. Felix Lorenz and his Captain T Cell team at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) are developing the next generation of cancer therapies. The scientists want to give new patient groups access to T-cell therapy. They are initially focusing on blood cancer patients whose acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is no longer responding to other forms of treatment.

At the end of the funding the project has received from the BMBF’s biotechnology start-up initiative GO-Bio it is intended to start a company that will further develop this T-cell therapy for clinical application.

This particular therapy involves equipping the immune system’s existing T-cells with genes for new tumor-specific receptors. These receptors enable the genetically modified T-cells to detect and destroy tumor cells in the body. The research team has developed a method that allows for better and more targeted identification of tumor-specific receptors. This method therefore has great potential for wider application in treating various types of cancer.


Plenty of support from Berlin
The Captain T Cell team will continue to work closely with MDC scientist Professor Wolfgang Uckert. The project is also receiving support from the MDC’s own Technology Transfer Office and the SPARK Berlin program – a mentoring network led by the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH).

The concept has already won several awards. In 2016, for example, the project group beat 400 international participants to win OneStart in London – the world’s largest competition for start-ups in healthcare and life sciences. And in 2017, the team won the jury prize at the BioVaria Conference in Munich in the category “Best Idea for a Spin-Off.”