BruCells was incorporated in April 2001 in order to further develop therapeutic vaccines based on patents and know how developed by Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The scientific collaboration was extended later to Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), the Brussels branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR), the Free University of Amsterdam, the University of Wuerzburg, the Jikei University and the Etablissement Français du Sang. The developments are funded in part by industry partners and by grants from the regional government of Brussels.
These vaccines are making use of the unique properties of dendritic cells (DCs) to present antigens to the immune system. After experimenting with autologous and allogeneic DCs obtained from blood monocytes, the company has concentrated on DCs obtained from proprietary cell lines, which avoids the need for patient material and makes possible production of standard products on inventory.
The company is currently developing two types of DC vaccines, namely: DCs fused with whole tumour cells; DCs loaded ex-vivo with proteins or peptides associated with tumour antigens.
The lead product BCL005 is being develop for the treatment of grade IIb to IV melanoma under Orphan Drug designation granted by the FDA in 2010.