AgeX & Juvenescence closer to universal allogeneic cells

AgeX and Juvenescence publish progress in development of hypoimmunogenic cells.

Longevity focused life sciences companies, AgeX Therapeutics [1] and Juvenescence [2], today announced the publication of a new paper that shows encouraging progress in the development of hypoimmunogenic (or universal) allogeneic cells.

Cell therapy either uses a patient’s own cells (autologous) or donor cells (allogeneic). An allogeneic approach is superior in almost every way, including quality, scalability, manufacturing cost, commercialisation and more. But the biggest challenge facing allogeneic therapy is rejection due to a patient’s immune system response to donor cells. Hypoimmunogenic cells evade a host’s immune system, so engineering allogeneic cells to be universal would be transformative for regenerative medicine.

Today’s paper, published in Regenerative Medicine [3], explores the strategies associated with generation of universal allogeneic cells, and also includes recently published experimental data relating to AgeX’s proprietary immunotolerance technology, UniverCyte [4]. UniverCyte aims to utilise a proprietary, novel, modified form of immunomodulatory molecule HLA-G to generate universal allogeneic cells to enable off-the-shelf therapeutics without the need for immunosuppressants.

The data provides support for the premise that UniverCyte-expressing tissue is potentially hypoimmunogenic and might have escaped recognition by a functional human immune system and continued to grow.

The paper’s lead author is Dr Nafees Malik, Chief Operating Officer at AgeX and Head of Cell & Gene Therapy at Juvenescence.

“Hypoimmunogenic allogeneic cells are the Holy Grail in regenerative medicine, and a number of accomplished researchers have made great strides toward engineering them over the last few years,” said Dr Malik. “This is a huge area of focus for us at AgeX, via our UniverCyte technology platform. In support of our own research and as a service to the overall field, we decided to put together this paper, analyzing all the leading strategies to engineer universal cells and encapsulating them in one paper.”

Co-author Jim Mellon, Chairman of Juvenescence, said, “AgeX’s UniverCyte technology platform will not only be important to the company in developing in-house therapies, it may also be transformative for the wider cell therapy industry via collaborations and licensing deals. It is quite conceivable that in the near future, allogeneic cell therapies may potentially need to be universal to be clinically and commercially competitive.”

AgeX is developing its UniverCyte technology platform at its new 15,700-square-feet R&D facility, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Co-author Gregory Bailey, MD, Chairman of the Board of Directors of AgeX and CEO of Juvenescence, said, “Universal cells would help us and others to fulfill the original vision of cell therapy. Thus, I am pleased that my colleagues at AgeX and Juvenescence have put together this paper, as it should be of considerable benefit to researchers, possibly enabling them to accelerate their progress.”

Dr Bailey added, “AgeX’s UniverCyte technology uses a novel, modified form of the tolerogenic molecule HLA-G, which in nature plays a key role in preventing a mother from rejecting her semi-allogeneic baby.”