The company reports that for autologous processing, the SQZ technology currently takes around 16 hours in contrast to weeks or days for other similar technologies, an issue for the feasibility of some cell-based therapies.

“The SQZ technology is really neat as it does not need a lot of complex processing, although I wasn’t too overwhelmed by the efficacy data presented in the poster,” said Dr Ottensmeier. “However, the transfection of the cells was the important aspect of this work, not really the nature of the cell line — they used perfectly reasonable models to produce their preliminary data and it is reasonable to move forward into clinical trials now,” he added.

The company is working toward human clinical trials with the method and hopes to submit an investigational new drug application in the second half of 2020.

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“What is the most exciting to us is the principle behind this is applicable to many different tumor types; it’s really a case of putting in other antigens. HPV tumors are an easy place to start, as they are well understood — but they can be used as a template to apply to many different antigens,” said Dr Sharei. He added that he believes the technology could apply to previously hard-to-target antigens, such as mutated KRAS.

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“The goals of the project address an important need,” said Dr Fong, citing scalability, adverse effects, and choice of antigen target and antigens as big questions that the company has yet to address. “Current methods for stimulating the immune system to target cancer by cell engineering have many shortcomings. If a method can be found for rapidly and inexpensively producing modified native cells to carry tumor antigens along with adjuvants to antigen-presenting cells, it would be an important advance,” he said.

Disclosures: Dr Fong disclosed that one of his specialty areas is the development of oncolytic viruses. He is on the scientific advisory board of Imugene. He developed the CF33, and City of Hope licensed it to Imugene.


  1. 34th Annual Meeting & Pre-Conference Programs of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC 2019): part 1 National Harbor, MD, USA. November 2019. J Immunother Cancer. 2019;7(Suppl 1):282. doi: 10.1186/s40425-019-0763-1
  2. SQZ Biotech. SQZ Biotech announces first patient dosed in phase 1 trial of SQZ-PBMC-HPV for HPV+ tumors [press release]. Published online January 30, 2020. Accessed January 30, 2020.
  3. Lawrence L. Cancer Therapy Advisor. Anti-CD19 CAR-T therapy shows early efficacy in ALL. Published July 2, 2019. Accessed January 29, 2020.