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Sernova Corp
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Sernova to develop diabetes treatment with AgeX

2020-05-29 11:02 ET - News Release

Mr. Jeffrey Janus reports


AgeX Therapeutics Inc. and Sernova Corp. have entered a research collaboration where Sernova will utilize AgeX's UniverCyte gene technology to generate immune-protected universal therapeutic cells for use in combination with Sernova's Cell Pouch for the treatment of Type I diabetes and hemophilia A. The goal is to eliminate the need for immunosuppressive medications following Cell Pouch cell transplantation.

The research collaboration will evaluate whether Sernova's pluripotent stem cell-derived pancreatic islet beta cells engineered with AgeX's UniverCyte technology can evade human immune detection. The complementary combination of technologies could enable the transplantation of therapeutic cells in patients with Type I diabetes in an off-the-shelf manner using Sernova's Cell Pouch, without human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue matching or concurrent administration of immunosuppressive medications. With a similar intent, pluripotent stem cell-derived or adult donor-derived human factor VIII-releasing cells modified with AgeX's UniverCyte will be evaluated in Sernova's hemophilia A program.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sernova has been granted a time-limited, non-exclusive research licence by AgeX. A commercial licence for Sernova to utilize UniverCyte to engineer cellular products for therapeutic and commercial purposes may be negotiated between the companies pending successful study outcomes.

The UniverCyte technology aims to mask therapeutic cells derived from pluripotent stem cells or adult donors from human immune detection to allow for off-the-shelf cellular products without the need for immunosuppressant medications which may have potent side effects, or HLA-matching between donor and patient. UniverCyte uses a novel, modified form of HLA-G, a potent immunomodulatory molecule, which in nature protects an unborn child from their mother's immune system. In almost all human cells, native HLA-G expression is silenced after birth. AgeX's modified HLA-G shows evidence of being resistant to this silencing, thereby potentially allowing for long term, stable and high expression of the immunomodulatory effect.

Sernova plans to utilize the universal therapeutic cells generated through this research collaboration with its Cell Pouch system, a proprietary, scalable, implantable macro-encapsulation device, which, upon implantation, incorporates with tissue and forms highly vascularized chambers. These chambers become a natural environment in the body to house and favour long-term survival and function of therapeutic cells. The Cell Pouch system has shown initial safety and efficacy indicators in an continuing phase I/II clinical study at the University of Chicago and in a preclinical model of hemophilia A when assessed with human cells corrected to produce factor VIII.

"We are thrilled with our collaboration with Sernova, which is at the forefront of cellular therapies for diabetes and hemophilia and is already in the clinic for the former. The combination of AgeX's UniverCyte to cloak cells from a patient's immune system and Sernova's Cell Pouch technologies to permit cells to function long term upon transplantation would be a landmark for regenerative medicine. This deal marks another important step in AgeX's collaboration and licensing strategy to work with the very best people, companies and institutions in the world of regenerative medicine," said Dr. Nafees Malik, chief operating officer of AgeX.

"We look forward to working with AgeX and its outstanding team as we continue to identify and evaluate technologies complementary to Sernova's therapeutic platform and expand our immune protection offerings. AgeX's UniverCyte technology is a significant advancement in the field of cell therapy and a perfect fit with Sernova's Cell Pouch technologies and therapeutic pipeline with its potential benefit over current immunosuppressive strategies for regenerative medicine therapeutics," said Dr. Philip Toleikis, president and chief executive officer of Sernova.

About Sernova Corp.

Sernova is developing regenerative medicine therapeutic technologies using the Cell Pouch system, a medical device and immune protected therapeutic cells (human donor cells, corrected human cells and stem-cell-derived cells) to improve the treatment and quality of life of people with chronic metabolic diseases.

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