Based in Seattle, Washington, Universal Cells Inc. is a revolutionary therapeutic genome editing company that uses nuclease-free technology to develop “off-the-shelf” stem cell products that are universally compatible. While an early-stage company, this novel approach to stem cell engineering has the potential completely alter stem cell therapeutics.
In major news released today, Universal Cells announced that it has entered into an agreement with HEALIOS K.K. in Japan, the world’s leading company producing induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapeutics. Together, Universal Cells and Healios will create universal donor iPSCs by editing the genes required for antigen presentation.
A Trend Toward Partnership with Japanese Giants
Universal Cells’ alignnment with HEALIOS K.K. is one of many partnerships between stem cell start-ups and large pharma in Japan.
A large number of these partnerships have been facilitated by the Japanese government passing the “Act on the Safety on Regenerative Medicine” and making revisions to the “Pharmaceutical and Medical device Act” in late 2014. These legislative acts have positioned Japan as a “gateway” country for rapid development of cell and gene therapies.
Other recent examples of such partnerships include:
- Mesoblast with JCR Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. – December 3, 2015
- Pluristem with Sosei CVC – December 20, 2016
- Athersys with Healios – January 8, 2016
- TiGenix with Takeda – July 5, 2016
- Cynata Therapeutics with FUJIFILM Corporation – September 5 2016
- Steminent with ReproCELL – November 22, 2016
- Regeneus with AGC Asahi Glass – December 29, 2016
Universal Cell’s Partnershi with HEALIOS K.K.
As stated in the press release released by Universal Cells:
“Universal Cells Inc. (Seattle WA, USA) and HEALIOS K.K. (“Healios”) (Tokyo, Japan) have entered into a collaborative research and exclusive option agreement to create therapeutic off-the-shelf iPSCs. The partnership will focus on the production of Universal Donor iPSCs by editing the genes required for antigen presentation.
“Partnering with the world’s leading company in iPSC therapeutics, and the leading nation for accelerated regulatory approval for regenerative medicine products is a significant step towards bringing universal donor cells into the clinic”, commented Dr. Mitchell, CEO of Universal Cells.
Universal Cells’ technology is based on discoveries by Dr. David Russell, the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Universal Cells, and a world-renowned leader in gene editing. Universal Cells has licensed patents on recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV)-mediated gene editing, and HLA engineering.”