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Flagship Pioneering launches Sigilon Therapeutics

Monday, June 26, 2017

Flagship Pioneering, a fully-integrated life science innovation enterprise, announced the launch of Sigilon Therapeutics. 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.”

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