CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Flagship Pioneering, a fully-integrated life science innovation enterprise, today announced the launch of Sigilon Therapeutics Inc. Sigilon Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers and develops category-defining biocompatible encapsulated cell therapies. Sigilon Therapeutics' discovery platform combines cell engineering and revolutionary biocompatible Afibromer™ technology, a new class of implantable biomaterials that do not trigger fibrosis. The company will develop products that emerge from its discovery platform to treat serious hematologic, enzyme deficiency and endocrine disorders. VentureLabs®, Flagship's institutional innovation foundry, originated Sigilon Therapeutics and co-founded the company with Professors Daniel Anderson and Robert Langer of MIT's Institute of Medical Engineering and Science, Department of Chemical Engineering and Koch Institute. Flagship capitalized Sigilon Therapeutics with $23.5 million.
Fibrosis—a scarring process by which the body isolates foreign material—has historically prevented the successful development of encapsulated cell therapies. Capsules made with biocompatible Afibromers™ demonstrate unprecedented cell survival and function for extended periods. Sigilon Therapeutics engineers the cells in these capsules to secrete therapeutic proteins continuously and consistently. Afibromers™ are based on research led by Professor Anderson, whose studies describing the results of this work have been published in Nature Materials,Nature Medicine and Nature Biotechnology.
"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," said Douglas Cole, M.D., managing partner at Flagship Pioneering and founding chairman of the Sigilon Therapeutics board of directors. "Following two 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."
Professor Robert Langer, a co-founder and director of Sigilon Therapeutics, said, "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. 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."
Sigilon Therapeutics also today announced its executive leadership and board of directors, both of which comprise executives with extensive backgrounds in cell biology, translational materials science, medical research and biopharmaceutical development for new types of therapeutics.
"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," said Paul K. Wotton, Ph.D., CEO and member of the board of directors. "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."
About Sigilon Therapeutics' Leadership Team and Board of Directors Prior to becoming CEO at Sigilon Therapeutics, Dr. Wotton served as president and CEO of Ocata Therapeutics until its acquisition by Astellas Pharma, where he was co-chairman of the Integration Management Office. He has also served as president and CEO of Antares Pharma as well as CEO of Topigen Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Wotton has held senior leadership roles at SkyePharma, Eurand International, Penwest Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories as well as Merck and Sharp & Dohme (Merck & Co.) Dr. Wotton received a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical science from the University of Nottingham and is the recipient of the 2014 EY Entrepreneur of The Year Award (NJ) in Life Sciences.
Sigilon Therapeutics has assembled an executive team with many years of experience in their respective areas of expertise. This group includes Chief Technology Officer David Peritt, Ph.D., who has recently joined from Pfizer, and Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Operations Devyn Smith, Ph.D., who was previously head of operations and strategy for the Medicinal Sciences Division of Worldwide R&D at Pfizer. James D. Watson, chief business officer of Sigilon Therapeutics, previously served as CBO at Alvine Pharmaceuticals and has held leadership roles at Burrill & Company and Incyte Corporation.
The Sigilon Therapeutics board of directors is led by Chairman Douglas Cole, M.D., managing partner at Flagship Pioneering. Other members of the board of directors include Jim Gilbert, senior partner at Flagship Pioneering; Robert Langer, Sc.D., David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT; Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D., professor of chemical engineering at MIT; Robert Ruffolo, Ph.D., former president of research and development at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and recipient of the Scrip Lifetime Achievement Award; Jeff Flier, M.D., professor at the Harvard Medical School and former dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard University; and Stephen Oesterle, M.D., former senior vice president for medicine and technology at Medtronic.
About Sigilon Therapeutics Sigilon Therapeutics was founded and created by Flagship Pioneering. Sigilon Therapeutics is developing treatments for chronic diseases using new biomaterials, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), that can shield implanted cells from immune attack. Treatments based on Sigilon Therapeutics' technology platform include cell implants that act as responsive "living therapeutics," providing more natural control for diseases that are currently treated with intermittent injection or infusion. Initial areas of focus include hematologic, enzyme deficiency, endocrine and metabolic disorders. More natural control would restore health and free patients from the need for therapies that are disruptive to quality of life.
In addition to Flagship Pioneering, Professor Anderson and Professor Langer, Sigilon Therapeutics' co-founders include Omid Veiseh, Ph.D., José Oberholzer, M.D. of the University of Virginia, and Arturo Vegas, Ph.D. of Boston University.
About Flagship Pioneering Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources and develops first-in-category life sciences companies. Its institutional innovation foundry, Flagship VentureLabs®, is where Flagship's team of scientific entrepreneurs systematically evolves enterprising ideas into new fields or previously undiscovered areas of science into real-world inventions and ventures. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has applied its hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster nearly 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $20 billion in aggregate value, 500+ issued patents and more than 45 clinical trials for novel therapeutic agents.
Since inception, Flagship has capitalized its growing portfolio with over $1 billion coming from $1.75 billion of aggregate investor capital committed across five funds. The firm's current portfolio includes pioneering ventures that are transforming human health and sustainability, including: Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AGIO), Editas Medicine (NASDAQ: EDIT), Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB) and Syros Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SYRS), as well as private companies, including Axcella Health, Indigo Agriculture, Moderna Therapeutics and Rubius Therapeutics. Flagship has ongoing corporate innovation alliances with several market leaders, including: AstraZeneca, the Crop Science Division of Bayer and Nestlé Health Science. To learn more about Flagship Pioneering, please visit our website: www.FlagshipPioneering.com.