A Treg cell therapeutics MedTech has raised £117 million for a platform which aims to help transplant patients.

Tregs are known as the ‘master modulators’ of immune homeostasis. Quell Therapeutics is using them to create novel cell therapies designed to suppress overactive immune responses, drive long-term tolerance in the local immune environment and promote tissue repair. 

Its platform technology enables the company to design, engineer and manufacture at scale therapeutic Treg products with greater stability, persistence and potency than earlier generations. 

Quell, which closed a Series A round of £60m earlier this year, said the Series B round was co-led by Jeito Capital, Ridgeback Capital Investments, SV Health Investors and Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, alongside founding investor Syncona.

New investors include British Patient Capital through its Future Fund: Breakthrough program, Janus Henderson Investors, Monashee Investment Management, Point72 and funds managed by Tekla Capital Management LLC.

The London-based company’s lead programme, QEL-001, is designed to prevent organ rejection in liver transplant patients by inducing durable immune tolerance and eliminating the need for lifelong immunosuppression. 

It is expected to enter the clinic in the first half of 2022, with patient recruitment expected to begin before the end of the year.

Startups should follow ‘scientific method’ to success

The money will be used to fund clinical development of QEL-001 in liver transplantation, to accelerate development of its product pipeline across transplantation, neuroinflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and enhance its multi-modular engineered Treg platform and manufacturing footprint.

“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,” said Iain McGill, CEO. 

“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 diseases caused by immune dysregulation.”

In connection with the financing, Rachel Mears (partner at Jeito Capital), Jeffrey Long-McGie (MD at Ridgeback Capital) and Houman Ashrafian (managing partner at SV Health Investors) joined Quell’s board of directors.

Martin Murphy, CEO 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 – we are excited to see its pioneering lead program enter the clinic this year.

“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.”