Identification of ten novel tumor-specific antigens immunogenic for T cells

Planegg/Martinsried and Montréal – 10 April 2021. Medigene AG (Medigene, FSE: MDG1, Prime Standard), a clinical stage immuno-oncology company focusing on the development of T cell immunotherapies, today presents the screening and identification of novel immunogenic tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) derived from non-coding regions of the human genome at the American Association for Cancer Research Virtual Annual Meeting (AACR) 2021. The poster can be found on Medigene’s website:

Significant efforts are being dedicated worldwide to identifying novel TSAs as targets for cancer immunotherapy. In this respect, not only known proteins but also non-coding genetic regions of cells are studied as sources of peptides that can be presented by HLA molecules at the surface of tumor cells and be recognized by T cell receptors (TCRs). Such TSAs can provide new targets that allow improved discrimination between cancer cells and healthy tissues by T cells.

Under a collaboration agreement with IRICoR and the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal, Canada, Medigene gained access to 47 potential TSAs presented by one of five common HLA types that were identified as novel peptides eluted from the HLA molecules of tumor cells. These peptides were found to be shared among specimens of several patients with solid tumors of different origin, such as ovarian, breast, and lung cancer, but were not detected in healthy tissues, giving them the character of TSAs for TCRs.

Medigene’s high-throughput screening technology identified ten peptides as immunogenic and able to induce specific T cell responses. One or more immunogenic peptides were found for each of the five analyzed HLA types. TCRs of T cell clones recognizing these novel peptides were determined by gene sequencing and their characterization is ongoing.

Prof. Dolores Schendel, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer at Medigene: “We are very proud to demonstrate that our high-throughput functional T cell screening approach proves to be a key tool in development of TCR-based cancer immunotherapies that can target a new class of TSAs based on peptides derived from non-coding genetic regions expressed by tumor cells. Our technologies allowed new peptide-HLA combinations to be rapidly defined that have the potential to broaden TCR diversity for patients with different HLA types whose tumors present these novel peptides.

Experiments are ongoing for individual TCRs to determine their suitability for future clinical development of TCR-T-based immunotherapy. We look forward to learning whether this novel class of TSAs will form a strong basis for T cell-based immunotherapies that can reach more patients who are in need of new therapeutic options to treat cancer.”

Dr. Steven Klein, Vice-President, Business Development at IRICoR: “Our ongoing collaboration with Medigene is very important for IRICoR and for the researchers at IRIC who identified these TSAs. The demonstration by Medigene of the immunogenicity of these solid tumor TSAs is an important milestone in the development of new TSA-based immunotherapies. IRICoR continues to invest in the identification of novel immunogenic TSAs in both solid and liquid tumors, and we expect to develop additional partnerships around this TSA discovery platform.”

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About Medigene
Medigene AG (FSE: MDG1, Prime Standard, ISIN DE000A1X3W00) is a publicly listed biotechnology company headquartered in Martinsried near Munich, Germany. The company is developing highly innovative immunotherapies to target various forms and stages of cancer. Medigene concentrates on the development of personalized T cell-based therapies, with associated projects currently in pre-clinical and clinical development.
For more information, please visit

About Medigene’s TCR-Ts
TCR-T technology arms a patient’s own T cells with tumor-specific T cell receptors. The T cell receptor-modified T cells (TCR-T cells) are then able to detect and efficiently kill tumor cells. This immunotherapy approach attempts to overcome the patient’s tolerance towards cancer cells and tumor-induced immunosuppression by activating and modifying the patient’s T cells outside the body (ex vivo).
Medigene is conducting a Phase I/II clinical trial of its TCR-T candidate MDG1011 in the blood cancer indications AML and MDS. In addition, Medigene is establishing a pipeline of TCRs and has collaborations with bluebird bio, Inc. and Cytovant Sciences HK Ltd. addressing solid tumor indications.

About IRICoR
Designated as a Centre of Excellence in Research and Commercialization (CECR) by the Canadian government and based at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal, IRICoR is a pan-Canadian leader in the de-risking of early-stage assets in the field of drug discovery. IRICoR’s mandate is to accelerate the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapies in cancer and rare diseases. Since 2008, IRICoR has been successfully investing in and supporting selected high-value projects in order to rapidly translate early-stage innovation into potential new therapies, through either co-development partnerships with the biopharmaceutical industry or the creation of spin-off companies. IRICoR seamlessly combines its business-related expertise with access to industry-level drug discovery capabilities, providing selected academic and industry projects with access to its network of experts and cutting-edge infrastructure, including one of the largest academia-based drug discovery unit in Canada. IRICoR’s major funding sources include the federal CECR Program, the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec (MEI), and collaborative partnerships with the biopharmaceutical industry.
For more information about IRICoR:

About the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal
An ultra-modern research hub and training centre located in the heart of the Université de Montréal, the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer of the Université de Montréal was created in 2003 to shed light on the mechanisms of cancer and discover new, more effective therapies to counter this disease. The IRIC operates according to a model that is unique in Canada. Its innovative approach to research has already led to discoveries that will, over the coming years, have a significant impact on the fight against cancer.
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This press release contains forward-looking statements representing the opinion of Medigene as of the date of this release. The actual results achieved by Medigene may differ significantly from the forward-looking statements made herein. Medigene is not bound to update any of these forward-looking statements. Medigene® is a registered trademark of Medigene AG. This trademark may be owned or licensed in select locations only.

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