Carina Biotech and biopharmaceutical company Biosceptre are pleased to announce they have signed an agreement that will see the advancement of a promising cancer immunotherapy.

Biosceptre, developing targeted therapeutics and immune-oncology products, have acquired the exclusive rights to Carina Biotech’s nfP2X7-targeted CAR-T cells and associated intellectual property, which have shown encouraging cancer-killing capacity against a number of cancers in pre-clinical testing. Biosceptre and Carina will collaborate to further develop the nfP2X7 CAR-T program, with the aim of advancing towards clinical trials in the near future. Under the terms of the deal, Carina received an upfront cash payment and equity in Biosceptre.

Deborah Rathjen, PhD, CEO of Carina Biotech, said: “This agreement with Biosceptre represents a significant milestone for Carina as the first commercial agreement involving our proprietary CAR-T technology. We believe that nfP2X7-targeting CAR-T cells hold significant promise as a potential treatment for a range of solid cancers, and we are pleased to be working with Biosceptre to further bolster their pipeline of therapies exploiting the novel nfP2X7 target.”

“I would like to pay particular tribute to the Carina Board of Directors, led by our Chair Dr Leanna Read, for their role in bringing this deal to fruition,” Dr Rathjen added.

Gavin Currie, CEO of Biosceptre said: “With this deal we are building on our commitment to therapies focussed on non-functional P2X7, a cancer target that has been shown to be present on the majority of cancers. Our goal is to bring novel therapeutics to patients suffering from a wide range range of malignancies, and CAR-T therapy is an important part of our immune-oncology approach.”


P2X7 is an ATP-gated cation channel on the surface of some normal cells. In response to certain extracellular conditions, P2X7 forms a pore in the cell that is associated with the induction of cell death. It was demonstrated by Biosceptre that a dysfunctional variant of P2X7 (nfP2X7) is expressed by cancer cells and is unable to open the large pore that drives normal cell death. Biosceptre has shown that nfP2X7 is widely distributed on over 20 types of cancer yet substantially absent in healthy cell types – making it an ideal target to treat cancer.

In 2015, Carina founding CEO Dr Justin Coombs, together with Professor Simon Barry and his laboratory at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital, created the first CAR-T cells targeted against nfP2X7. Carina Biotech has since demonstrated pre-clinical anti-cancer activity against a broad range of cancer types including prostate, breast and ovarian cancers.