Press Release

LAVA Therapeutics, Amsterdam UMC and Monash University Announce Publication of a Novel Cancer Immunotherapy Approach in Nature Cancer

Utrecht, The Netherlands & Philadelphia – LAVA Therapeutics B.V., a biotech company pioneering bispecific gamma-delta T cell engagers for cancer, Amsterdam UMC and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Australia, today announced that Nature Cancer has published their co-authored paper titled, “A single domain bispecific antibody targeting CD1d and the NKT T cell receptor induces a potent antitumor response,” detailing a novel immune-oncology approach for the potential treatment of cancer.

Findings in the paper highlight the potential for a LAVA-derived antibody fragment, known as a single domain antibody, that acts as a bridge to link together two key immune cell receptors – the CD1d receptor and the T cell receptor of natural killer T (NKT) cells – in order to enhance the body’s immune response to cancer. The CD1d receptor is frequently expressed by tumor cells and NKT cells are positioned at the interface between the innate and adaptive immune system and play an important role in the host-rejection of both tumors and virally infected cells. Preclinical research through the companies’ collaboration demonstrates that a CD1d-NKT cell targeting antibody resulted in significant activation of NKT cells and the subsequent killing of CD1d-expressing tumor cells in multiple tumor samples, including multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia.

“These data underscore the potential of LAVA’s bispecific antibody approach to target and activate NKT cells for the treatment of cancer,” said Hans van der Vliet, professor in medical oncology at Amsterdam UMC and chief scientific officer of LAVA Therapeutics. “By targeting and boosting natural immune cells that are inherent in all humans, such as NKT and gamma-delta T cells, for an enhanced therapeutic effect, our approach could translate into a broadly applicable immunotherapeutic strategy for treating a range of cancer indications.”

“Using the Australian Synchrotron, the team at Monash University provided detailed atomic insight into how the single domain antibodies exerted their effect on immune cells in a cancer model. Through this, we were able to precisely visualize how the single domain antibody simultaneously recognized CD1d and the NKT T cell receptor, thereby providing a molecular basis for their anti-tumor properties,” professor Jamie Rossjohn, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at Monash University stated. “The collaboration with LAVA Therapeutics on this ground-breaking approach was very effective.”

Instrumental to the study were joint first authors Dr. Roeland Lameris from Amsterdam UMC and Dr. Adam Shahine from Monash University.

About LAVA Therapeutics

LAVA Therapeutics, B.V., is developing a proprietary bispecific antibody platform that engages gamma-delta T cells for the treatment of hematological and solid cancers. The company’s first-in-class immuno-oncology approach activates Vγ9Vδ2 T cells upon binding to membrane-expressed tumor targets. LAVA was founded in 2016 based on intellectual property originating from Hans van der Vliet`s group at the Amsterdam UMC, and is backed by Lupus Ventures, Biox Biosciences, Versant Ventures, Gilde Healthcare and MRL Ventures Fund. The company has established a highly experienced antibody research and development team located in Utrecht, the Netherlands (headquarters) and Philadelphia. For more information, please visit

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Spanning six discovery programs across Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Development and Stem Cells, Infection and Immunity, Metabolic Disease and Obesity, and Neuroscience, Monash BDI is one of the largest biomedical research institutes in Australia. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.


Alicia Davis, THRUST Strategic Communications,

Wendy Smith, Monash University Media Team,, M: +61 425 725 836