10 Best Startups to Watch 2019

A frontrunner in developing techs for T cell therapies and cancer treatment: Autolus


Autolus is a leader in T cell programming technologies and believes its leadership will provide a competitive advantage as it looks to develop future generations of T cell therapies targeting both hematological cancers and solid tumors. Autolus is at the forefront of a revolution in cancer treatment. Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapies have been shown to be effective in some haematological malignancies and may have wide applications as a cancer treatment, with the potential for cure in some patients. Autolus is a leader in T-cell programming and manufacturing technology. Working in partnership with physicians and other healthcare providers, we extract immune cells from patients, equip them with a receptor that targets the cancer cell and infuse them back into the patient in order to develop therapies which we believe will offer cancer patients substantial benefits over the existing standard of care.

Autolus is a biopharmaceutical company. It is founded on advanced cell programming technology pioneered by Dr. Martin Pule and was spun-out from University College London in 2014. Since its inception, the company has undergone rapid growth, systematically adding the capabilities needed to manufacture and develop its programmed T cell product candidates. Autolus is committed to bringing life-changing treatments to cancer patients by reprogramming their own T-cells to combat the treatment of haematological malignancies and solid tumors. Autolus believe its programmed T cell therapies have the potential to offer cancer patients substantial benefits over the existing standard of care, including the potential for cure in some patients.


For many years, the cornerstones of cancer treatment have been surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Recent years have seen the emergence of cancer immunotherapy, in which treatments harness the power of a patient’s immune system to combat their disease. T cells are a type of white blood cell that form part of the immune system’s natural protection against cancer and infection. Normally our T cells can detect and eliminate abnormal or cancerous cells but sometimes these cells can escape detection and develop into tumors. To overcome this problem Autolus is applying its advanced cell programming technologies and specialized manufacturing processes to develop programmed T cell product candidates. The company makes use of powerful Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) or T-cell receptors (TCRs) to reprogramme T cells to recognise and kill the tumor cell. Autolus have developed their own proprietary viral vector and semi-automated cell manufacturing processes.

Advanced cell programming technology

Engineered T cell immunotherapy products show significant efficacy for haematological malignancies. However, realisation of the potential of this approach across a broad range of tumour types will require multiple technology solutions to address limitations of the current generation of therapies. Autolus is applying its extensive cell programming capability to develop a pipeline of precise, controlled and highly active products. Autolus is applying pattern recognition technology to engineer T cells with that are designed to enhance selectivity for tumour cells, sparing healthy cells and avoiding unwanted side effects. Autolus has developed technologies to modulate T cell activity or eliminate programmed T cells in the event of severe side effects that have been observed with these types of therapies. Autolus has developed a technology that is designed to deliver a cytokine signal directly inside its programmed T cells without administration of cytokines themselves. Depending on the tumour microenvironment, the cytokine persistence signal may be further enhanced by antigens secreted by the tumour. Autolus believe its approach will be more potent and will have the potential to be less toxic, when compared to approaches that rely on systemic or local delivery of cytokines.

Dr. Christian Itin Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors

Christian Itin joined Autolus as Chairman of the Board of Directors at the inception of the company and subsequently also took on the role of Chief Executive Officer. Previously he was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cytos Biotechnology Ltd, a public biotechnology company that merged with Kuros Biosurgery Holding Ltd, and he now serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the merged entity, renamed Kuros Biosciences Ltd. He also serves as a Non-Executive Director of the UK-based human antibody company; Kymab Ltd. Prior to joining Cytos, Christian was President and Chief Executive Officer of Micromet Inc., a formerly Nasdaq-listed biopharmaceutical company which was acquired in March 2012 by Amgen, Inc. for USD 1.2 billion in cash. Micromet pioneered T-cell engaging antibodies and with blinatumomab developed the first approved product in this field. After serving in senior management roles at Micromet, Christian was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2004. Prior to joining Micromet in 1999, Christian co-founded Zyomyx, Inc., a protein chip company based in Hayward, CA, USA. He received a diploma in biology and a PhD in cell biology from the University of Basel, Switzerland. In addition, he also performed post-doctoral research at the Biocenter of Basel University and at Stanford University School of Medicine, CA, USA.

“Autolus is applying its broad array of T cell programming technologies and capabilities to engineer precisely targeted controlled and highly active T cell therapies that are designed to better recognise cancer cells, break down their defence mechanisms and attack and kill these cells.”