A life sciences investment firm is combining two of its portfolio companies into a single entity that it said would focus on using immunotherapy to treat cancers, autoimmune and infectious diseases.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Flagship Pioneering said Thursday that it had formed Repertoire Immune Medicines by combining two existing companies: Cogen Immune Medicines, which will contribute immune decoding technology, and Torque Therapeutics, which brings in an immuno-oncology development system.

Torque and Cogen have raised a combined $220 million to date. In an emailed statement, Flagship noted that the majority of that funding was raised last year, led by Flagship and with several additional private investment groups participating. The CEO is John Cox, who previously led the spinoff of Bioverativ from Biogen and was in charge of the company until French drugmaker Sanofi acquired it in January 2018 for $11.6 billion. Bioverativ manufactured and developed drugs for hemophilia. Flagship CEO Noubar Afeyan will serve as Repertoire’s chairman.

“Repertoire is pioneering a new class of therapies based on high throughput, high content interrogation of the intrinsic ability of T cells to prevent or cure diseases,” Afeyan said in a statement. “Our products will be designed to leverage the highly evolved, potent and clinically validated mechanism of the natural immune synapse to provide immune security to patients.”

Repertoire plans to use the previous two companies’ respective technology platforms to characterize the immune synapse and use the findings to develop cell therapies. The company is conducting a Phase I/Ib clinical trial of TRQ15-01, a T-cell therapy it inherited from Torque, in patients with solid tumor cancers and lymphomas. The therapy involves preparing patients’ own T cells and then linking an IL-15 nanogel immune modulator to them.

The trial, for which Torque is still listed as the sponsor, started in October 2018 and is set to enroll 80 patients at nine sites in the U.S., according to ClinicalTrials.gov. Other than lymphomas, the trial is enrolling patients with non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, clear cell cancer of the kidney, head and neck cancer, urothelial cancer, ovarian cancer, sarcomas and others determined based on emerging data discussed via teleconferences as likely immunogenic.

Photo: Natee Meepian, Getty Images

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