Backed with $23.5 million from Flagship Pioneering, Sigilon Therapeutics launched today with a plan to leverage its biocompatible Afibromer technology with engineered cells to treat hematologic, enzyme deficiency and endocrine disorders.
Sigilon’s Afibromer platform represents a new class of implantable biomaterials that don’t trigger fibrosis, the company said. Encapsulated cell therapies have failed in the past in part because the body is designed to respond to and isolate foreign material. But capsules made from a biocompatible material, like Afibromers, could potentially help cell therapies survive the human immune system.
“Harnessing the power of cells to treat diseases has been a holy grail for medicine since the advent of biotechnology. It opens the possibility of treating patients with serious illnesses without the risks of immunosuppression or genetic manipulation,” Dr. Douglas Cole, managing partner at Flagship Pioneering & founding chairman of the Sigilon Therapeutics board of directors, said in prepared remarks. “Following 2 years of forming the innovation and IP foundations within Flagship VentureLabs, Sigilon Therapeutics is poised to leverage its unique approach to engineering controllable and dose-adjustable cell systems to provide a natural, effective form of delivery that vastly expands therapeutic options for patients and physicians.”
“Restoring critical proteins in the body in an effective and controllable way has been an elusive goal for many years. The discovery of permeable biomaterials that avoid fibrosis opens a broad range of possibilities,” Robert Langer, co-founder & director, said. “Sigilon Therapeutics’ technology allows implanted cells to deliver proteins in a controlled manner over extended periods and can be envisioned as a transplanted tissue that avoids effects of rejection and isolation by the immune system.”
“Imagine the potential of a ‘living therapeutic’ that could be implanted in the body and manufacture and release therapeutic proteins at steady levels for long periods of time, avoiding the critical limitations of intermittent infusion required with current therapies,” CEO Paul Wotton added. “Our proprietary approach to cell engineering and Afibromer™ technology, together with the deep experience of our leadership, allows us to realize this potential and restore health and quality of life for many patients.”