Industry updates with Dusko Ilic: August 2021

Written by Dusko ILIC


Read highlights from the latest installment of Dusko Ilic’s industry news, which discuss the latest developments and news in regenerative medicine and stem cell research, and are published every month in Regenerative Medicine.

Every month, Dusko comments on regenerative medicine industry news of note. Read the full update for August 2021 in Regenerative Medicine here >>>

Find previous updates here>>

What happened this month that you were expecting?

Having fate in Fate Therapeutics

Fate Therapeutics (MA, USA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of programmed cellular immunotherapies for patients with cancer, has announced that the first patient has been treated with FT819, an off-the-shelf CAR T-cell therapy targeting CD19+ malignancies. FT819 is the first-ever CAR T-cell therapy derived from a clonal master iPSC line. Not to forget, the company already runs several clinical trials with FT516 and FT596, iPSC-derived natural killer (NK) cells.

What happened that surprised you this month?

Vertex and Arbor deal

Since Vertex (MA, USA), a company specialized in cystic fibrosis jumped into diabetes field by acquiring Semma Therapeutics for US$950 million, I should expect anything. Though, still, I did not expect that they will pursue CRISPR field as quickly and deeply as they did. Arbor Biotechnologies (MA, USA) is an early-stage life sciences company discovering and developing the next generation of genetic medicines. Co-founded by Feng Zhang and David Walt, Arbor uses its proprietary discovery engine to discover unique and wholly owned CRISPR-based genetic modifiers with differentiated genetic editing capabilities. This portfolio of gene editors can be custom tailored to address the underlying pathology of genetic diseases. The new agreement between Arbor and Vertex builds upon the companies’ first partnership established in 2018. Under this new partnership, Vertex will receive rights to use Arbor’s technology to research and develop ex vivo engineered cell therapies towards Vertex’s goal of generating fully differentiated, insulin-producing hypoimmune islet cells for the treatment of type 1 diabetes, for next-generation approaches in sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia, and for the treatment of other diseases.

If we only read about one story this month, what should it be?

A paper crane spinning in the wind

In Japanese culture, the crane has always been a symbol of success and good fortune. Paper folded into a shape of crane is called orizuru. Japanese believe that the paper cranes spinning in the wind will make dreams come true.

The dreams of new Japanese venture Orizuru Therapeutics (Japan) is to bring hope for better health through infinite power of science, contributing to society and patients through the utilization of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology developed in Japan. These dreams are quite likely to come to fruition. The company, backed by the Kyoto University (Japan) and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company (Japan), in no time raised US$56 million and employed 60 people. An important detail: scientific board is chaired by Shinya Yamanaka.

Read the full industry update for August 2021 >>>

Dr Dusko Ilic

Dusko Ilic is a Senior Lecturer in stem cell science, coordinator of the cross-divisional postgraduate program in stem cells and regenerative medicine, and Head of the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Core Facility at King’s College London (London, UK). He is also Head of the Assisted Conception Unit’s Human Embryonic Laboratories at Guy’s Hospital (London, UK). He is also a member of the editorial board of the journal Regenerative Medicine, where he writes the Industry Report, a regular feature compiling information from non-academic institutions in the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine.