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Etcembly reveals world’s first generative AI-designed T cell engager with picomolar affinity

Oxford, UK - British techbio innovator Etcembly is coming out of stealth mode, kickstarting the next generation of immunotherapies with a pipeline of best-in-class T cell receptor (TCR) therapeutics designed using generative AI.


The company’s lead therapeutic programme, ETC-101, is the world’s first AI-designed bispecific T cell engager. It targets PRAME, an antigen present in many cancers but absent from healthy tissue. 


The lead asset currently demonstrates single digit picomolar affinity - a million-fold higher affinity than the native receptor - with no known cross-reactivity detected. Etcembly has advanced ETC-101 to this stage in 11 months, compared with 2+ years for conventional TCR discovery and engineering pipelines. This was achieved while simultaneously developing the platform, so future programmes should be even faster.


Further programmes include first-in-class assets against undisclosed targets in oncology and autoimmune disease, along with an immune engager targeting MAGE A4, which is present in several cancers including melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer.


TCR design using generative AI
TCR structures predicted by EMLy™ (Model) and actual crystal structures (Crystal) show strong concordance - this precise modelling facilitates rapid engineering of high affinity variants.


Etcembly's innovative AI engine EMLy™ uses generative large language models (LLMs) to rapidly predict, design and validate TCR candidates. EMLy™ scans hundreds of millions of TCR sequences then engineers them to achieve low pM affinity and eliminate cross-reactivity.


This groundbreaking approach overcomes the barriers holding back the discovery and engineering of TCR candidates, accelerating the development of high-quality, potent and safe immunotherapies.


Established in 2020, Etcembly is supported by a syndicate of institutional and private investors. The company has also benefited from joining NVIDIA Inception, a programme that nurtures startups revolutionising industries through advanced technologies.


The company is actively developing partnerships with innovative biopharma companies working on next-generation immunotherapies, while also driving preclinical validation of its own pipeline of immune engagers towards the clinic.


Co-founder and CEO Michelle Teng said, “Etcembly was born from our desire to bring together two concepts that are ahead of the scientific mainstream - TCRs and generative AI - to design the next generation of immunotherapies. It’s a real testament to the tenacity of our team and our technology that we’ve generated a robust pipeline with first-in-class applications within a few years, and I’m excited to take these assets forward so we can make the future of TCR therapeutics a reality and bring transformative treatments to patients.” 


Bent Jakobsen, immunotherapy pioneer and Etcembly board member, said, “Having headed up the development of TCR therapeutics for many years, it’s exciting to see a new platform with such power to deliver and engineer these therapies. I believe TCRs have the potential to become a prominent drug class but it has been hampered by the difficulties involved with the huge complexities of the system. Etcembly’s breakthrough technologies sweep aside these hurdles and will undoubtedly lead to a game-changing acceleration of the TCR field.”

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