Syncona Ltd, a leading healthcare company focused on founding, building and funding global leaders in life science, today announces that it has committed $25 million (£19 million) to Quell Therapeutics (“Quell”), a world leader in developing engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies for serious medical conditions driven by the immune system, in an up to $156 million (£117 million) Series B financing.
Syncona co-led the financing round alongside specialist global institutional investors Jeito Capital, Ridgeback Capital Investments, SV Health Investors, and Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, which also brought in investment from Future Fund: Breakthrough managed by British Patient Capital, amongst others. Following the Series B financing Syncona has revalued its existing investment, which has resulted in an £19 million uplift (3p per Syncona share) to Syncona’s holding value of Quell.
Including the drawdown of the first tranche of Syncona’s Series B investment of $14 million (£10 million), Syncona’s holding value of Quell is now £74 million. On drawdown of the full Series B financing, Syncona’s ownership stake in Quell will be 37 percent.
Quell is developing engineered Treg cell therapies, seeking to harness the suppressive capacity of Tregs by leveraging their potential to downregulate the immune system, to treat a range of applications, the first of which will be in solid organ transplantation. Quell is currently preparing for one of the first-ever clinical trials of an engineered Treg cell therapy with its lead candidate QEL-001, designed to prevent organ rejection in liver transplant patients. This Phase I/II clinical trial, known as LIBERATE, is on track to initiate in Q1 CY2022.
The Series B financing brings Quell to up to $219 million (£163 million) of total funding to date. Proceeds are expected to continue to fund Quell’s early clinical development of its QEL-001 program in liver transplantation as well as advance its pipeline elsewhere in its core therapeutic areas of transplantation, neuroinflammatory diseases (including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and autoimmune diseases (including Type 1 diabetes). Additionally, the funding will enhance Quell’s autologous engineered Treg platform and enable it to develop an allogeneic CAR-Treg platform, as well as allowing it to continue the development of its manufacturing footprint.
Martin Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of Syncona Investment Management Limited, said: “In 2019, Syncona co-founded Quell, bringing together pioneering science from leading UK and European universities, with the ambition to develop first-in-class therapies in the ground-breaking Treg field offering the potential to make a real difference to the lives of patients. Since then, the progress made by the Quell team, led by Iain McGill, is remarkable. The business has moved from concept-to-clinic in under three years.
“This financing underlines the progress the company has made to date and the scale of its ambition. Supported by a strong syndicate of global investors, the business will be able to progress its lead program and pipeline, whilst building scalable manufacturing capabilities, as it seeks to entrench its leadership position in an emerging field of innovative medicine.”
Ian McGill, Chief Executive Officer of Quell Therapeutics, said: “Quell is at the forefront of a new wave of cell therapy. We are leading the way with our highly differentiated, multi-modular approach to Treg therapy engineering and production.
“We are proud to have the support of this premiere syndicate of investors as we drive forward to our next stage of growth. With this financing, we have the full suite of capabilities – capital, cutting-edge science, and a world-class team – to advance our pipeline and platform to key milestones on our path ultimately to deliver potentially transformative therapies to patients suffering from the disease of immune dysregulation.”