Strategic collaboration set to develop an iPSC-derived cell therapy platform

Quell Therapeutics and Cellistic aim to develop next-gen platform for creation of off-the-shelf Treg cell therapies targeting a wide range of diseases driven by immune dysregulation.

Quell Therapeutics Ltd, which develops engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies for serious medical conditions driven by the immune system, and Cellistic, the iPSC-focused cell therapy process development & manufacturing partner recently launched by Ncardia to make large-scale allogeneic cell therapy production a reality, have announced they have entered into a strategic collaboration for the co-development of an iPSC-derived Treg cell immune diseases therapy platform.

The goal of the partnership is to facilitate the future expansion of Quell’s autologous Treg cell therapy pipeline by adding off-the-shelf, allogeneic Treg cell therapy products, leveraging Cellistic’s expertise in differentiation and scale-up of iPSC processes for allogeneic cell therapy applications.

This is the first announced collaboration for Cellistic, Ncardia’s recently formed cell therapy process development and manufacturing services business.

Longevity.Technology: This collaboration will combine Quell’s pioneering autologous multi-modular Treg cell therapy platform and Cellistic’s expertise in iPSC cell therapy platform development and scale-up, accelerating the development of a next-generation allogeneic Treg platform. This could open significant opportunities for the creation of off-the-shelf Treg cell therapies that will target a wide range of diseases which are driven by immune dysregulation.

The immune system becomes highly dysfunctional during aging and it has become a target for a slew of antiaging therapeutic approaches, with several demonstrating encouraging pre-clinical results. The immune system is intrinsically linked with other pathways and systems in the body, playing a role in maintaining homeostasis and fighting infection and cancer, and this makes it the “ideal target to comprehensively address many hallmarks of aging”, although any therapy that tackles multiple components of the immune system must ensure it is finely balanced to avoid undesired and potentially harmful side effects [1].

“Quell has made significant progress advancing the first candidate from our autologous multi-modular Treg cell therapy platform into the clinic, with the initiation of our LIBERATE study of QEL-001 to prevent liver transplant rejection,” said Iain McGill, Chief Executive Officer, Quell Therapeutics. “We believe there is significant opportunity to transform outcomes for patients with QEL-001 and other autologous Treg cell therapy products in our pipeline.”

“Our collaboration with Cellistic is a key building block in our investment towards a future, next-generation allogeneic Treg cell platform, which could significantly expand our opportunities to develop novel off-the-shelf treatments across a wide range of diseases driven by immune dysregulation,” he added. “We highly respect the expertise and experience of Ncardia and the Cellistic team, and its track record in developing rapidly scalable iPSC cell therapy processes.”

“Our partnership with Quell is emblematic of why we started Cellistic – to bring together our focus and expertise in the development and implementation of iPSC cell therapy platforms with companies like Quell that have an equal depth of expertise in therapeutic development and share our vision for the future of cell therapy,” said Stefan Braam, Chief Executive Officer, Cellistic. “We are excited to collaborate with the Quell team, both to develop the platforms, and to support Quell’s long-term supply needs as they deliver impactful therapeutics to patients.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Quell and Cellistic will collaborate in joint research to develop a process for differentiating iPSCs into highly functional Treg cell therapy products. Quell will contribute its Treg expertise and engineering technologies, as well as characterising resulting Treg cells, while Cellistic will be responsible for the iPSC process science and development activities.

Based on a successful research phase, the collaboration will enter a product development phase with Quell having exclusive rights under the co-developed iPSC-Treg process for the development of multiple allogeneic iPSC-Treg cell therapeutics. Cellistic will be the exclusive contract development and manufacturing company partner for Quell’s iPSC-Treg product pipeline, leveraging Cellistic’s ongoing investment in downstream GMP capabilities.

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163721001574

Photograph: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

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