Seattle Children’s is spinning out BrainChild Bio, a biotech startup tackling cancer in the central nervous system with an initial focus on treatments for children.
The clinical-stage company is launching from Seattle Children’s Therapeutics, an innovation hub within the pediatric hospital. Dr. Michael Jensen is leaving his role as vice president of the hub to become the founder and chief scientific officer of BrainChild Bio. The startup has an exclusive license to use novel CAR T-cell technology developed by Jensen and his team.
The approach uses chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy, which genetically reprograms patients’ immune cells to kill cancerous cells. The CAR T-cells act like a “cellular-size scalpel,” Jensen said, to metaphorically cut out the disease.
The startup is initially targeting diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and incurable cancer that strikes the brain stem. Following a diagnosis, patients typically live 12 to 16 months, and are only able to receive radiation as a palliative therapy. About 600 U.S. kids are diagnosed with DIPG annually and there are an estimated 10,000 cases globally.