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Syncona start-up Quell Therapeutics appoints chief exec

Biotech focusing on Tregs

Quell

Quell Therapeutics, a new UK biotech company focused on developing engineered T regulatory (Treg) cell therapies, has appointed Iain McGill as its chief executive.

The company was launched just last month, with Syncona as its lead investor, putting £34m ($43m) into the firm, which will focus on developing cell therapies based on Tregs to treat diseases of the immune system.

Syncona is on a roll at present, having launched a string of new cell and gene therapy-focused companies in the last few years. One investment in the field has just paid off, with gene therapy company Nightstar being sold to Biogen for $800m.

Quell's focus is on Tregs, a new frontier in cell therapy. They work by downregulating the immune system, rather than activating it, as ‘effector’ T cells do, such as those used in CAR-T therapies.

London-based Quell Therapeutics aims to harness this suppressive capacity of Tregs to treat immune dysfunction conditions by using gene-modified cells. The company says it will target a range of conditions including solid organ transplant rejection, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Iain McGill

Iain McGill

Iain McGill has been recruited from his role as senior vice president Europe and Rest of World for Jazz Pharmaceuticals, the specialist pharma company, best known in Europe for its AML treatment Vyxeos.

McGill is credited with building an international footprint for Jazz and was an integral member of the company’s leadership team.

He has 25 years’ experience in the industry, including solid organ and cell transplantation therapy areas.

Equally relevant is his experience in building life sciences firms from the ground up. Iain was previously at EUSA Pharma, an entrepreneurial private-equity backed start-up pharma company where he served as chief commercial officer. He was part of the management team which successfully built EUSA Pharma and sold to Jazz Pharmaceuticals for $700m in 2012.

Prior to that, he had served in various senior roles in positions in transplantation and immunology for Wyeth, Novartis and Roche.

“I am delighted to be leading such an exciting company, “ said Iain McGill. “With Syncona’s vision and the backing of leading experts in the Treg field, cell engineering, solid organ transplantation and autoimmune diseases from KCL, UCL and Hannover Medical School, Quell Therapeutics has a real opportunity to bring transformational therapies to patients who are in need of safer and more effective therapies to manage their conditions.”

Elisa Petris, Partner of Syncona, said she was delighted to appoint the experienced McGill. She commented:

“We have brought together a talented team of world-class leaders in their respective fields in the founding team and we look forward to building out the executive team and working with them as we deliver on the company’s goal of becoming the leader in treating conditions of immune dysfunction using engineered Tregs."

Numerous other companies are investigating the potential of Tregs, including Genentech, which recently signed a deal with Parvus Therapeutics in autoimmune diseases.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

20th June 2019

From: Research

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