Today Syncona announced the foundation of Quell Therapeutics (Quell), a new cell therapy company, with a £35 million commitment in a Series A financing of which £1 million will be invested in syndicate by UCL Technology Fund. Funds will be tranched in three phases with Syncona acquiring a 69.3 per cent stake in the business upon third tranche completion.
Quell has been established with the aim of developing engineered T regulatory (Treg) cell therapies. Tregs are a subset of T cells with the potential to downregulate the immune system. Quell will seek to utilise the power of Treg cells to advance therapies for the management and treatment of a range of conditions such as solid organ transplant rejection, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Building upon its domain expertise in adoptive T-cell immunotherapeutics, Syncona sought to form a company based upon Treg cells, bringing together the expertise of six proven leaders within the Treg, cell engineering, solid organ transplantation and autoimmune disease fields from three world class institutions: University College London (UCL), Kings College London (KCL) and Hannover Medical School.
Professors Hans Stauss and Emma Morris of the Institute of Immunity & Transplantation at UCL will provide Quell with over fifteen years of experience in T cell engineering and cell gene therapy clinical trials, having been supported by various charities and funding bodies throughout their research careers.
The collaboration between the three universities also marks a unique milestone for UCLB in the translation of UCL expertise, providing an opportunity to grow UCL research and know-how alongside the work of other leading universities.
Hans Stauss, Professor of Tumour Immunology and Director of the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation at UCL, said: “Quell brings together the expertise in clinical trials, regulatory T cell biology and gene engineering at UCL, King’s College London and Hannover Medical School. It is exciting to have the backing of Syncona to develop a new class of living medicine to avoid transplant rejection and treat autoimmune diseases.”
Emma Morris, Professor of Clinical Cell & Gene Therapy and Inflammation, Immunity and Immunotherapeutics Theme Director, National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre said: “Quell Therapeutics will build on recent scientific and clinical developments in T cell gene engineering to develop targeted cellular therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and to induce immune tolerance in solid organ transplantation. Our aim is to bring gene modified regulatory T cells into the clinic as rapidly as possible for the benefit of patients.”
Dr Barny Cox, Senior Business Manager, UCLB said: “We are grateful to the Quell Therapeutics investors and academic founders. Bringing together world class expertise from leading research institutions, Quell Therapeutics is an excellent example of universities and their respective technology transfer organisations collaborating effectively to translate high quality research outputs into clinical stage advanced therapeutics.”
Elisa Petris, Partner of Syncona Investment Management Limited, said: “The foundation of Quell represents an exciting opportunity for Syncona to build the leading cell engineering company with the potential to develop a first-in-class therapy in an innovative field. Over the last year, we have worked to bring together a group of world-class leaders in their respective fields, developed a strategy for the business and funded the business to enable it to scale and succeed. We look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with them as we build out the company’s management team and business plan to deliver their goal of becoming the leader in treating conditions of immune dysfunction utilising gene-modified cells.”
Syncona is a leading FTSE250 healthcare company focused on founding, building and funding global leaders in life science. Our vision is to deliver transformational treatments to patients in truly innovative areas of healthcare while generating superior returns for shareholders.
We seek to partner with the best, brightest and most ambitious minds in science to build globally competitive businesses.
We take a long-term view, underpinned by a deep pool of capital, and are established leaders in gene and cell therapy. We focus on delivering dramatic efficacy for patients in areas of high unmet need.
About Quell Therapeutics:
Quell’s vision is to become a leading engineered Treg cell therapy company. The company will seek to develop next generation engineered T-regulatory cell (Treg) therapies for a range of solid organ transplant and autoimmune conditions.
Quell has been founded by Syncona in partnership with six leading experts in the Treg field, cell engineering, solid organ transplantation and autoimmune diseases: Giovanni Lombardi, Professor of Human Transplant Immunology at Kings College London (KCL), Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo, Professor of Hepatology in the Institute of Liver Studies at KCL, Hans Stauss, Professor of Tumour Immunology and Director of the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation at University College London (UCL), Emma Morris, Professor of Clinical Cell & Gene Therapy and Inflammation, Immunity and Immunotherapeutics Theme Director, National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, Marc Martinez-Llordella, Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Liver Studies at KCL and Elmar Jaeckel, Co-Leader Liver Transplant program MHH, Group Leader “Immune tolerance” in the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology at Hannover Medical School.
Syncona is aLondon listed FTSE 250 healthcare company, which has committed £34 million to the business in a £35 million Series A financing, with a further £1.0 million being contributed by UCL Technology Fund.
About UCL Technology Fund:
The UCL Technology Fund is dedicated to investing in intellectual property commercialisation opportunities arising from UCL’s world-class research base, focusing in particular on the physical and life sciences. The Fund supports UCL in achieving the full potential of innovations that have prospects for outstanding societal and market impact, right through the development journey from initial proof of concept to practical commercial application.
The Fund is co-managed by AlbionVC, one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK in collaboration with UCLB, UCL’s commercialisation company.