Press Release

The First Patient Treated in New Clinical Trial Using Cell Sense

January 4, 2021 – Pittsburgh, PA

Celsense, Inc. announced today that investigators at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center (UCSD) have treated the first patient in a new clinical trial where the therapeutic cells will be imaged by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using the company’s Cell Sense technology.    In this FDA authorized clinical trial (NCT03991741), investigators will study the migration of autologous tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL’s) administered to patients with head and neck cancer (HNC).  This study is the second live cell cancer vaccine to be visualized in patients using Cell Sense in the United States.

The administration of live cell vaccines is an emerging strategy to treat a variety of cancers.  Investigators believe that the trafficking of TIL’s to the sites of disease is fundamental to the success of this therapeutic strategy.  “We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with the team at UCSD.  We expect that data from this study as a whole will lead to improved outcomes for patients receiving TIL’s and other live cell vaccines for cancer,” said Charlie O’Hanlon, President and CEO of Celsense. 

This clinical trial has been funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (R01CA134633).  The co-investigators at UCSD are Drs. Eric Ahrens, Ezra Cohen and Greg Daniels.  Other investigators in the study include Dr. Julie Bykowski at UCSD, Dr. Stephen Schoenberger at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and Dr. Brooke Helfer at Celsense, Inc.

HNC is the sixth most common cancer worldwide. In the United States, HNC accounts for 3% (53,000 cases in 2020) of all cancers diagnosed annually and 2% of cancer related deaths (11,000 deaths in 2019) according the American Cancer Society.  There is also a poor prognosis for patients with reoccurrence, with a mean survival of less than 2 months. Immunotherapy is emerging as a key anti-cancer strategy with the potential to provide patient-specific, less toxic and more efficacious treatments.  TILs have proven successful in melanoma, and a major effort is underway at UCSD to develop this therapy for HNC. 

“Although TIL therapies have been used in hundreds of patients to date, fundamental questions remain about the modes of action of TILs in vivo. Up until now, investigators have been blind to the behavior of cells after infusion into patients.  TIL trafficking, as well as cell survival, may be predictive of responders versus non-responders to treatment,” according to Mr. O’Hanlon.

About Cell Sense

Cell Sense is a patented fluorocarbon tracer agent used to safely and efficiently label cells ex vivo without the use of transfection agents. Labeled cells are transplanted into the patient enabling researchers and clinicians to non-invasively track the administration and migration of therapeutic and/or diagnostic cells using 19F MRI or MRS. Applications include tracking cells in immunotherapy or regenerative medicine as well as diagnosis of inflammatory sites by tracking selected populations of immune cells.  Cell Sense is the subject of a Drug Master File at US FDA and Health Canada, and is the only clinical grade MRI cell tracking reagent available in North America.  Using software developed by Celsense, investigators can quantify the number of labeled cells in a user-specified region of interest. It is expected that in vivo cellular imaging will routinely be used to provide a surrogate biomarker for certain cellular therapeutic and drug trials

About Celsense

Celsense, Inc. develops and offers novel pre-clinical and clinical-grade products that enable the non-invasive imaging of cells in vivo using MRI. The company’s lead product Cell Sense is a patented fluorocarbon tracer agent used to safely and efficiently label cells ex vivo without the use of transfection agents. Cell Sense is the subject of a Drug Master File at US FDA and Health Canada, and is the only clinical grade MRI cell tracking reagent available in North America.  Using software developed by Celsense, investigators can quantify the number of labeled cells in a user-specified region of interest. Celsense’s mission is to be the standard for cellular imaging in human health.

Information Contact:  Charlie O’Hanlon, President and CEO of Celsense, Inc., (412) 263-2870 or charlie@celsense.com

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Celsense offers products that enable real-time MRI detection of inflammation and cellular therapeutics. The mission of the company is to be the standard for cellular imaging in human health.

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