Immunocore Appoints Professor Sir John Bell to its Board of Directors

OXFORD, England, March 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

Immunocore Limited, a world-leading biotechnology company developing novel biological drugs to treat cancer, viral infections and autoimmune disease, today announced the appointment of Professor Sir John Bell, the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and Chairman of the Office for the Strategic Coordination of Health Research, to its Board of Directors with immediate effect.

Professor Bell, one of the world's most distinguished scientists in the fields of genomic and genetic research and immunology, also brings significant experience in healthcare business, having been a founding director at three biotechnology companies; Avidex Limited (a precursor to Immunocore which was acquired by MediGene in 2006) Oxagen Limited and PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc (acquired by Chiron Corporation in 2003). He currently also serves on the boards of Roche and Genentech and had a previous role on the scientific advisory board at AstraZeneca.

Professor Bell was involved in the founding of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University, now chairs the scientific committee of UK Biobank and the Global Health Scientific Advisory Board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is one of two Life Science Champions for the UK, reporting to the UK Prime Minister. His research has contributed significantly to the understanding of immune activation in a number of auto-immune diseases.

"Professor Sir John Bell's scientific expertise and industry experience are second to none, and his appointment will be a huge asset to Immunocore as it advances its immuno-oncology platform technology for the treatment of diseases with high unmet medical need including cancer, viral infections and autoimmune diseases,"Dr Eliot Forster, Chief Executive Officer of Immunocore, commented. "We are delighted to welcome him to the Board of Directors."

"I am delighted to be joining the board of Immunocore, whose ImmTAC technology is, I believe, among the most promising approaches to the treatment of diseases like cancer and viral infections in the industry,"Professor Bell said. "I hope that my research experience in immunology, as well as my personal history with the company and my broader experience in the sector, will be helpful to Immunocore as it enters a dynamic new phase, and I look forward to working with the board and management team."

Notes for editors 

Professor Sir John Bell 

Professor Bell, who is a Canadian citizen, graduated from the University of Alberta in 1975 before studying medicine on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. In 1982, he became a Clinical Fellow in Immunology at Stanford University, CA, where he worked on histocompatibility antigens and autoimmune disease.

In 1987 Professor Bell returned to Oxford as a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow and joined the Institute of Molecular Medicine. In 1994 he became one of the founders of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University. He is an emeritus fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford and a student of Christ Church College. From 1998-2003 he sat on the Council of the Medical Research Council.

Professor Bell's research has identified genes involved in susceptibility to diabetes mellitus type 1, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and has contributed to the understanding of the role of interactions on the surface of the T-cell in immune activation. He has also studied high-throughput genomics, structural genomics and ENU mutagenesis.

About Immunocore 

Immunocore is one of the world's leading biotechnology companies, with a highly innovative immuno-oncology platform technology called ImmTACs. ImmTACs are a novel class of biologic drugs based on the Company's proprietary T cell receptor (TCR) technology which have the potential to treat diseases with high unmet medical need including cancer, viral infections and autoimmune diseases.  Immunocore, based on decades of world-leading scientific innovation in the discovery of HLA targets and T cell receptor technology, has a pipeline of wholly-owned and partnered ImmTAC programmes with robust clinical data, validated by collaborations with world-leading pharmaceutical companies.  Immunocore aims to leverage the utility of its platform across a wide range of indications to become a Premier Biotech company and world-leader in its field.

Immunocore's world-leading science and strong IP position has attracted major pharmaceutical companies including Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, MedImmune, the biologics division of AstraZeneca, via discovery collaborations, as well as a co-discovery and co-development partnership with Lilly.  Founded in 2008 originally out of Oxford University and headquartered outside Oxford, Immunocore now has more than 140 staff. Immunocore is well funded and owned by a group of long-term private investors. For more information, please visit http://www.immunocore.com

About ImmTACs 

Immunocore's proprietary technology is focused on small protein molecules called ImmTACs (Immune mobilising mTCR Against Cancer) that enable the immune system to recognise and kill cancerous or bacterially/virally infected cells.

Immunocore's ImmTACs, a new class of drug with ultra-high affinity for intracellular cancer targets, are synthetic, soluble T cell receptors (TCRs) that recognise diseased cells containing disease specific targets. The ImmTACs enable circulating T-cells to selectively identify and kill diseased cells.  The ImmTAC platform is unique in its high specificity and potency and broad applicability to a wide range of intracellular targets and disease indications.  ImmTACs can access up to nine-fold more targets than typical antibody-based therapies, including monoclonal antibodies.

TCRs naturally recognise diseased cells and Immunocore's world-leading competitive advantage is its ability to engineer high affinity TCRs and link them to an antibody fragment that activates a highly potent and specific T cell response to recognise and destroy cancer cells. The most advanced ImmTAC, IMCgp100, is currently in Phase IIa clinical trials for the treatment of late stage melanoma. Immunocore has a growing internal pipeline of ImmTACs addressing many different cancer types and has developed a broad database of intracellular cancer targets.  

ImmTACs can address a significantly larger range of disease indications than currently respond to existing immuno-oncology agents and combine the characteristics of very high potency, encouraging safety and low cost of goods.

SOURCE Immunocore Limited

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