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21 April, 2020 - 12:10 By Tony Quested

T-time as Mogrify eyes fistful of dollars with US genomics firm

In a new Cambridge-California technology play Mogrify in the UK and Sangamo in the US have agreed a collaboration and exclusive licence agreement for Mogrify’s iPSC and ESC-derived regulatory T cells.

It is a fistful of dollars play for startup business Mogrify which aims to transform the development of cell therapies by the systematic discovery of novel cell conversions; Nasdaq-quoted Sangamo Therapeutics is a genomic medicine company.

The deal allows Sangamo to develop allogeneic cell therapies from Mogrify’s proprietary induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and Sangamo’s zinc finger protein (ZFP) gene-engineered chimeric antigen receptor regulatory T cell (CAR-Treg) technology. 

No figures are being released by either party but based on similar deals by early-stage biotech companies Business Weekly believes that in addition to a significant up-front payment the deal could yield tens of millions of dollars in payments to Mogrify if a T-Reg cell therapy from the collaboration progresses through clinical development to market authorisation. 

Over and above this, royalties forthcoming from subsequent product sales could add millions more dollars annually to Mogrify’s coffers. 

Mogrify CEO Dr Darrin Disley said: “Mogrify is delighted to announce its second commercial deal with a US biopharma and the first in the exciting field of T cell immunotherapy. 

“The combination of Mogrify’s proprietary systematic cell conversion technology and Sangamo’s regulatory T cell platform and proprietary ZFP platform is a natural fit.

“Sangamo is at the forefront of the development of a world-class engineered ZFP genome editing platform and we are very happy to be partnering with such an innovative company.”

Jason Fontenot, SVP, Head of Cell Therapy at Sangamo, added: “This agreement provides Sangamo with access to Mogrify’s cell conversion technology, which will diversify our options as we develop off-the-shelf allogeneic CAR-Treg cell therapies. 

“We expect this collaboration to accelerate our development of scalable and accessible CAR-Treg cell therapies, so that we can potentially deliver treatments to patients with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases more rapidly.”

Mogrify’s technology enables the transformation of any human cell type into any other human cell type. This transformation is achieved using transcription factors or small molecules identified using proprietary big data technologies. 

iPSCs and ESCs provide an evergreen starting material for the generation of Tregs, and facilitate more complex engineering and greater manufacturing scalability, potentially enabling the resulting therapies to be more cost-effective and thus more accessible to larger patient populations. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Mogrify will be responsible for the discovery and optimisation of the cell conversion technology from iPSCs or ESCs to regulatory T cells and Sangamo will be granted exclusive rights to use Mogrify’s technology to create Tregs from iPSCs or ESCs. 

Sangamo expects to then use its ZFP gene-engineering technology and therapeutic development capabilities to transform these Tregs into novel “off-the-shelf” allogeneic CAR-Treg cell therapy candidates and hopes to take them through clinical development through to registration for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

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