British biotech company Etcembly, has achieved a groundbreaking feat by utilizing AI inspired by ChatGPT to create a novel immunotherapy drug for cancer treatment. This marks the first-ever application of this technology in such a manner.

The drug, named ETC-101, falls under the category of bispecific T cell engagers and is founded on T cell receptors (TCRs), natural molecules that facilitate immune T cells in attacking cancer cells. Nevertheless, natural TCRs possess limited affinity for cancer cells and can even target healthy cells. This necessitates intricate molecular manipulation to produce TCRs with the necessary precision and sensitivity for use as therapeutic agents.

The pivotal element in this achievement is EMLy™, an advanced supercomputer employing state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to scour massive datasets, learning the language of TCRs to identify the optimal receptor for specific targets. A generative large language model similar to ChatGPT then rewrites the genetic code of the TCR to enhance its effectiveness. This modified code is subsequently validated through practical lab experiments, generating actual TCR-based drugs for testing.

ETC-101 focuses on targeting PRAME, a molecule prevalent in numerous cancers linked to poor survival rates. Unlike natural TCRs, the lead drug binds to PRAME with significantly heightened affinity, exclusively attaching to cancerous tissue and not affecting healthy cells. This achievement took only 11 months, a stark contrast to the conventional two-year process for TCR discovery and engineering.

The next stages involve thorough lab testing to confirm the safety and efficacy of ETC-101. The company plans to initiate clinical trials in 2025 and is concurrently developing other immunotherapy drugs for challenging cancer types like melanoma and lung cancer, along with autoimmune disorders such as arthritis.

Etcembly’s groundbreaking AI technology is shattering barriers hindering the identification and engineering of TCR candidates, expediting the development of potent and safe immunotherapies. Co-founder and CEO Michelle Teng emphasizes that their combination of TCRs and generative AI will pioneer the future of immunotherapies, delivering transformative treatments to patients. Renowned immunotherapy pioneer and Etcembly board member, Bent Jakobsen, lauds the technology for its potential to accelerate the TCR field and overcome its complexities.

Article written by Harwell Campus



Harwell Campus