University of Toronto and McMaster University-founded glioblastoma Car T-cell therapy developer Empirca Therapeutics has been acquired by Century Therapeutics.

Empirica Therapeutics, a Canada-based glioblastoma treatment spinout of University of Toronto and McMaster University, has been acquired by off-the-shelf cancer cell therapy developer Century Therapeutics for an undisclosed sum.

Empirica Therapeutics is working on a preclinical drug candidate called CD133 for glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer with an average survival time of 12 to 18 months, according to the Brain Tumour Charity.

The spinout aims to leverage chimeric antigen receptor T-cells – the disease-fighting white blood cells used in existing immunotherapies for other forms of cancer – to specifically kill off glioblastoma cells and prolong the patient’s survival outlook.

Empirica says its approach has been demonstrated in preclinical models and hopes that it will improve outcomes for patients whose glioblastoma cannot be treated with existing medicines.

Century Therapeutics is working on off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapies to improve upon drugs that require T-cells extracted from the patient, limiting their utility for people unable to provide a sample.

The company engineers pluripotent stem cells – which are able to potentially produce any cell or tissue – to differentiate into T-cells.

It will work alongside Empirica, now called Century Therapeutics Canada, to deliver proof-of-principle of the spinout’s approach.

Empirica was co-founded by Jason Moffat, a professor of molecular genetics and investigator at University of Toronto’s Donelly Centre for Cellular and Biomedical Research, and Sheila Singh, professor in the department of surgery at McMaster University.

The spinout received funding from University of Toronto-aligned research hubs Centre for Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics, and Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, although further details could not be ascertained.