Joint research on personalized cancer immunotherapy using regenerated T cells derived from iPS cells

Kyoto and Suita— The Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University (“CiRA”; Headquarters: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan; Director: Shinya Yamanaka), KOTAI Biotechnologies, Inc. (“KOTAI”; Headquarters: Suita, Osaka, Japan; CEO, Kazuo Yamashita) and Thyas Co., Ltd. (“Thyas”; Headquarters: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan; CEO, Yasumichi Hitoshi) jointly announced today that Thyas has joined the joint research on personalized cancer immunotherapy using regenerated T cells1 derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells2 initiated by CiRA and KOTAI.

The laboratory of Professor Shin Kaneko at the Department of Cell Growth and Differentiation at CiRA has been engaged in research on therapeutic regenerative T cells using iPS cells for cancer immune cell therapies. In these therapies, cytotoxic T cells3 that can attack cancer cells are isolated from cancer patients and reprogrammed into iPS cells. These iPS cells are then used to produce large numbers of rejuvenated T cells with high anti-cancer function (see figure below). CiRA and KOTAI have started the joint research in October, 2020 to establish more efficacious personalized cancer immune cell therapies using a surface antigen4 specifically expressed on anti-cancer cytotoxic T cells and immuno-informatics technologies possessed by KOTAI.

Personalized cancer immunotherapy with patients’ own TCRs and iPSC-derived T cells

Thyas have been engaged in establishment of robust and standardized manufacturing methods of regenerated T cells for industrial use using the research achievements by Professor Kaneko from Kyoto University. They have also been manufacturing the clinical batches and preparing for clinical studies of regenerated T cell products. Participation of Thyas, well-experienced in the production of regenerated T cells, is expected to accelerate the clinical application of the joint research results.

In this joint research, CiRA isolates T cells from cancer tissue and conducts iPS cell induction, T cell redifferentiation, and functional evaluation, while KOTAI provides information on the surface antigen for the T cell isolation and performs genetic analysis of the cells. Thyas will conduct optimization of the production of regenerated T cells above-mentioned for usage for clinical trials to be initiated by 2025, which will be the world’s first therapeutic cells equipped with personalized TCRs5.

By conducting this joint research, CiRA, KOTAI, and Thyas aim to establish personalized cancer immunotherapy using regenerated T cells and contribute to the further development and popularization of cancer immune cell therapy through the efforts toward clinical trials.


(Note 1) T cells: A type of lymphocyte that acts in immunity by recognizing and eliminating infected cells and cancer cells. Each T cell responds to a specific antigen. There are various types of T cells, such as cytotoxic T cells, helper T cells and others.

(Note 2) iPS cells: Somatic cells, such as skin or blood cells are reprogrammed into the pluripotent state by introducing a few genes. iPS cells are a type of stem cell with almost indefinite capacity to multiply and can differentiate into almost any kind of cell in the body.

(Note 3) Cytotoxic T cells: A type of T cell. When antigen information is received from other immune cells, cytotoxic T cells attack the cells corresponding to the antigen.

(Note 4) Surface antigen: A substance on a cell surface recognized by an antibody.

(Note 5) Regenerated T Cell Products: Thyas aims to start clinical trials of allogeneic iPS cell-derived regenerated T cell therapy targeting common antigens in the latter half of 2022 as its first pipeline. Development of this time will be installed to be the second pipeline for Thyas.

External links


Hiroyuki Shimizu
KOTAI Biotechnologies, Inc.
TEL: +81-6-6170-5267

Yoko Miyake
International Public Communications Office
Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) Kyoto University
TEL: +81-75-366-7005

Ryosuke Gonotsubo
Thyas Co., Ltd.
TEL: +81-75-752-1555