BruCells was incorporated in April 2001 in order to further develop therapeutic vaccines cells based on patents and know how developed by Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The scientific collaboration was extended in 2003 to Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and to the Brussels branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR). The developments are funded in part by the industry partners and by grants from the regional government of Brussels.
These vaccines are making use of the unique properties of dendritic cells(DCs), a small subpopulation of white blood cells, to activate the sentinels of the immune system (T-lymphocytes). By loading artificially DCs with tumour associated antigens, it is possible to teach the immune system of the patient to destroy its own cancer cells.
The company is currently developing two types of DC vaccines which are both in Phase IIa clinical testing, namely:
DCs fused with whole tumour cells;
DCs loaded ex-vivo with proteins or peptides associated with tumour antigens.
The company also produces and markets a limited number of clinical grade cytokines for use in the preparation of cancer vaccines.