Cell therapy weekly: Licensing agreement allows Evotec access to universal ‘stealth’ iPSCs

Also this week: The collaboration driving forward a novel cell therapy for COVID-19 and autologous neuron replacements receive US$70 million funding for development.

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The news highlights:

Licensing agreement allows Evotec to utilize immune-evasive iACT Stealth Cells™
Collaboration driving forward allogeneic NK-cell combination therapy for COVID-19
Development of autologous neuron replacement receives US$70 million funding

Licensing agreement allows Evotec to utilize immune-evasive iACT Stealth Cells™

Evotec (Hamburg, Germany) has licensed the use of PanCELLa’s (ON, Canada) iACT Stealth Cells™ in an effort to develop off-the-shelf, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies. By accessing PanCELLa’s genetically modified, ‘cloaked’ iPSCs, which have been specifically designed to evade an immune response, Evotec hopes to accelerate their cell therapy and discovery efforts across a broad range of indications. Utilizing universal iPSCs could allow for the development and mass production of numerous cell therapies. As part of the licensing agreement, Evotec is also now a minority shareholder and investor in PanCELLa.  

“Cell therapies hold enormous potential as truly regenerative or curative approaches for a broad range of different diseases with significant medical need,” commented Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec. “Integrating panCELLa’s technology and cell lines into our ongoing proprietary research and development efforts strengthens Evotec’s position in cell therapy. It is our goal to provide safe highly effective cell therapy products to as many patients as possible. In addition to small molecules and biologics, cell therapy will become yet another major pillar of Evotec’s multimodality discovery and development platform.”

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Collaboration driving forward allogeneic NK-cell combination therapy for COVID-19

Kleo Pharmaceuticals (CT, USA) has entered into a collaboration with Green Cross LabCell (GCLC; Yongin, South Korea) to develop an ‘off-the-shelf’ NK-cell immunotherapy for COVID-19.

GCLC, a company that focuses on developing the next generation of allogeneic therapies, will combine their expertise with Kleo Pharmaceuticals’ antibody recruiting molecule (ARM™). Kleo’s ARM is designed to redirect a patient’s own antibodies for a therapeutic effect and is already approved for use in clinical trials.  

“Being able to rapidly develop novel COVID-19 therapies highlights core attributes of Kleo’s platform technology ‒ namely speed and modularity,” commented Doug Manion, CEO of Kleo Pharmaceuticals. “As a physician trained in infectious disease, I was on the forefront of the HIV infection epidemic in the 1980s. We bear a responsibility to advance our anti-COVID-19 program as rapidly as possible to determine its utility in the fight. To that end, we are honored to collaborate with GCLC, whose allogeneic NK cells are already in late-stage clinical development in immuno-oncology and projected to advance into the clinic for COVID-19 in the second half of this year.”

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Development of autologous neuron replacement receives US$70 million funding

Aspen Neuroscience (CA, USA) has received US$70 million in Series A funding for the development of an autologous neuron replacement therapy. The therapy would allow for the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.  

"Our mission at Aspen Neuroscience is to develop a restorative, disease-modifying autologous neuron therapy for people suffering from Parkinson disease," explained Howard Federoff, Chief Executive Officer of Aspen Neuroscience. "We are dedicated to using a person's own cells for replacement therapy and bringing best-in-class treatments to people suffering from Parkinson disease as rapidly as possible."

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For more weekly cell therapy news, read previous editions of the cell therapy weekly.

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