Immunotherapy company to open first overseas office in Japan

Motherwell-based immunotherapy company TC BioPharm Ltd (TCB) is to open a new office in Japan to continue expansion of its Asian operations.

Developing innovative CAR-T-based approaches to treat cancer, TC BioPharm has an established history of working closely with Japanese biotech and pharmaceutical companies. TCB was founded by Dr Michael Leek in Glasgow in 2014.

Soon after commencing operations, Tokyo-based biotech company Medinet made an initial investment to assist progress to UK-based clinical studies.

Since incorporation, TCB has also worked closely with Cell Science & Technology Institute Inc. (a subsidiary of the NIPRO Corporation, Osaka), who exclusively developed specialised culture media to assist in the manufacture of ImmuniCAR and other cell-based therapies being developed by TCB.

In 2017, as part of a $8million equity round, TCB obtained its first significant investment from a major pharmaceutical company – the NIPRO Corporation (Osaka) who along with the Scottish Investment Bank contributed the majority of TCB’s series-A fundraising.

More recently, the NIPRO Corporation announced that it had formed a strategic collaboration to co-develop a novel immunotherapy product using TCB’s safe CAR-T platform, based on unique properties of modified gamma delta T cells to selectively target cancer whilst leaving healthy cells untouched. TCB intends to use this novel platform to develop new CAR-based immunotherapies, with the aim of treating a broad range of cancers and major viral disease.

From 14 February 2018, TCB’s Japanese operations will be located at the Kanagawa Life Innovation Center, Tonomachi in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Opposite Tokyo’s Haneda International airport, the biotech cluster at Tonomachi has been created for businesses to devise solutions to global issues in the life sciences sector. The Japanese Government has designated King SkyFront Park to be a special zone for international development, and is the flagship science and technology innovation hub of Kawasaki City.

Commenting on TCB’s occupancy at the Kawasaki SkyFront, Dr Michael Leek, TCB’s chief executive and founder said:  “We have been working closely with Japanese companies since TC BioPharm commenced operations in 2014, so I’m delighted that we now have a physical presence at the Kanagawa Life Innovation Center in Japan as we look to future clinical and commercial collaborations with the ultimate aim of improving patient health and quality of life.”

Chief business officer for TCB, Dr Artin Moussavi, added:  “Japan is a key market for TC BioPharm and having a base there is the next logical step for us. We already have strong partnerships in Japan and this opening furthermore demonstrates our long-term vision and investment to developing a major immunotherapy business in Japan and Asia.”

Assisting TCB with finding an ideal location in Japan, the company received extensive guidance from Scottish Development International (international arm of the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise).

Remarking on this significant outward investment for TCB and Scotland, Mr. Yuji Kuroiwa, Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, said:  “We all welcome TC BioPharm’s decision to locate in Kanagawa Life Innovation Center (LIC).  I am filled with deep emotion that the presence of Scottish Development International in LIC has led to an outcome: TCB, a leading company in cell therapy, deciding to locate in LIC.  Kanagawa Prefecture Government is ready to provide positive support to TCB’s projects.”