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20 May 2019

Quell Therapeutics Ltd founded for emerging area of cell therapy

King's and University College London (UCL) announce the foundation of a new spin-out company called Quell Therapeutics Limited.

Quell therapeutics

This new cell therapy company has been founded by a £35 million commitment Series A financing by Syncona who committed £34 million with a further £1 million being contributed by UCL Technology Fund.

Quell has been established with the aim of developing engineered T regulatory (Treg) cell therapies. Tregs are a subset of T cells that provide a regulatory function that harnesses their strong immune-suppressive capacity. 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.

Quell has been founded in partnership between King’s and UCL with six leading experts in the Treg field, cell engineering, solid organ transplantation and autoimmune diseases from King’s, UCL, and Hannover Medical School.

There are currently around 6,000 people on the UK Transplant Waiting List. Last year over 400 people died in the UK while waiting for a transplant. Within the US, 34,768 transplants were performed in 2017 and there is a need for improvements in preventing transplant rejection and limiting side effects such as kidney toxicity and hypertension or high blood sugar that can arise from commonly used immunosuppressive medicines. 

Autoimmune diseases are prevalent worldwide with an estimate of 5-10% of the global population affected.  The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA) has classified more than 100 separate autoimmune diseases, making it the third most common type of disease in the United States with an estimate of approximately 50 million people already living with this disease.  

We are excited at the prospect of Quell developing new engineered Treg products. These have the potential in the future to make an important difference in the quality of lives of transplant patients and those patients suffering from autoimmune diseases worldwide. We are pleased to have finalised this partnership which brings together experienced private investors and exciting new technologies aimed at benefitting future patients.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler Provost /Senior Vice President (Health) at King’s College London

Elisa Petris, Partner of Syncona Investment Management Limited commented '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 have been working closely with King’s College London where initially some of our scientists will be located and we are pleased to be able to access King’s viral vector manufacturing expertise and facilities and expertise from the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ BRC Advanced Therapy Manufacturing (GMP) Platform. This will help us deliver their goal of becoming the leader in treating conditions of immune dysfunction utilising gene-modified cells.' 

We are delighted to partner with Syncona to found Quell and are excited to work with the team to develop the next generation of engineered Treg cell therapies. The founder team has a unique cross-section of expertise, built over decades of scientific research and we believe there is a significant opportunity to develop novel therapies for the treatment of solid organ transplant and autoimmune conditions. We share Syncona’s vision to bring products to patients in areas of high unmet medical need and are looking forward to the journey ahead.

Professor Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo, School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences, King's College London, Founding Partner