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29 November 2021

King's start-up raises funds for immune system engineering

A UK biotech start-up led by researchers from King’s have raised $156 million in an oversubscribed Series B financing.


The company, which was founded three years ago by six immunology specialists from King’s, University College London and Hannover university, develops engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies for serious medical conditions driven by the immune system.

The financing will fund the LIBERATE Phase 1/2 clinical trial of QEL-001, a first-in-class antigen-specific multi-modular CAR-Treg cell therapy candidate designed to prevent organ rejection in liver transplant patients. The process induces durable immune tolerance and eliminates the need for lifelong immunosuppression. QEL-001 is on-track to become the first multi-modular engineered CAR-Treg cell therapy in clinical development, with patient recruitment expected to begin before the end of 2021.

Additionally, Quell’s researchers hope the funding will aid in core therapeutic areas of transplantation, neuroinflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases. It will also accelerate the development of Quell’s autologous multi-modular engineered Treg platform, and further develop an allogeneic CAR-Treg platform.

Quell is harnessing the full power of Tregs, known as the “master modulators” of immune homeostasis, to create novel cell therapies designed to suppress overactive immune responses, drive long-term tolerance in the local immune environment and promote tissue repair.

Quell’s platform technology enables the Company to design, engineer and manufacture at scale, therapeutic Treg products with greater stability, persistence and potency than earlier generations. Key elements of this technology include its proprietary Phenotype-Lock technology, which enables Quell to “lock” Tregs in an immunosuppressive phenotype that enhances their safety, stability, and efficacy; chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modules for tissue targeting; and additional modules to enhance disease-specific efficacy and safety.

Iain McGill, Chief Executive Officer of Quell Therapeutics said, “Quell is at the forefront of a new wave of cell therapy. We are leading the way with our highly-differentiated, multi-modular approach to Treg therapy engineering and production. We are proud to have the support of this premiere syndicate of investors as we drive forward to our next stage of growth. With this financing, we have the full suite of capabilities – capital, cutting-edge science, and a world-class team – to advance our pipeline and platform to key milestones on our path ultimately to deliver potentially transformative therapies to patients suffering from diseases caused by immune dysregulation.