AstraZeneca’s Discovery Centre. Credit: AstraZeneca.

Quell Therapeutics and AstraZeneca have entered a collaboration, exclusive option and licence deal for the development, manufacturing and commercialisation of engineered T-regulator (Treg) cell therapies for autoimmune diseases.

The collaboration will combine the multi-modular Treg cell engineering and manufacturing expertise of Quell and AstraZeneca’s developmental, commercial and therapeutic capabilities.

The partnership will use Quell’s toolbox of Treg cell engineering modules, which includes the Foxp3 phenotype lock, to create autologous multi-modular Treg cell therapy candidates to treat Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

AstraZeneca will take up the further development and commercialisation activities of the clinical candidates.

Quell will handle their process development and manufacturing until the programme reaches the end of the first-in-human clinical trial.

AstraZeneca will make an upfront payment to Quell of $85m, mostly in cash. The payment includes an equity investment.

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Quell is also entitled to receive additional payments of $2bn linked to the achievement of development and commercialisation milestones, along with tiered royalties.

Quell CEO Iain McGill stated: “This collaboration builds on our pioneering work to develop exquisitely engineered, multi-modular Treg cell therapies for immune disorders and provides excellent validation for the technologies and capabilities we have established.

“We are proud and incredibly excited to partner our leading science with the deep experience of AstraZeneca to accelerate the application of our Treg cell therapy platform in major autoimmune disease, where we believe there is a broad opportunity to reset immune tolerance and drive durable responses for patients.”

The company will also retain an option to co-develop Treg cell therapies under the T1D programme with AstraZeneca in the US. The company will be eligible to receive additional milestone-linked payments and increased royalties based on the net sales in the US market.

Quell can exercise this option either after approval of an investigational new drug (IND) application or following the completion of Phase I/II clinical trials.

Cell & Gene Therapy coverage on Pharmaceutical Technology is supported by Cytiva.

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