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Avectas and UC Davis Collaborate on Cell Engineering Technology

Collaboration will advance Avectas' cell engineering technology leveraging UC Davis' world-class cell membrane characterisation expertise

DUBLIN, June 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Avectas today announced that it has entered into a collaborative agreement with The Simon Laboratory at UC Davis, California, USA (UCD) to engage in the characterisation of cells engineered with Avectas' proprietary, non-viral SOLUPOREtm cell engineering platform. Under the collaboration, The Simon Laboratory at UCD will characterise cells engineered using SOLUPOREtm, leveraging UCD's unique cell membrane characterisation expertise and assays. 

The collaboration will involve the transfer of Avectas' technology to The Simon Laboratory where the expert group will engineer immune cells and study the delivery of cargoes such as DNA, mRNA, proteins and gene editing tools to cells, while retaining high levels of cell viability and functionality, for autologous and allogeneic cell therapies. The outputs of this exciting collaboration will inform the development of next generation Cell and Gene therapies.

This collaboration builds on Avectas' recent developments including a partnership with Onk Therapeutics, Series C funding, the issuance of a key U.S. Patent (USPN 10,612,042) and new collaborations with Vycellix of Florida, USA, the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) in Toronto, Canada and entering the new NK Cell Centre of Excellence at Karolinska Institute, Sweden, as a partner. 

Michael Maguire, PhD, CEO of Avectas, commented: "We are excited to collaborate with The Simon Laboratory and its world-class team to characterise our engineered cells in an entirely new way." He continued: "This new partnership will help us to engineer cells in more complex ways while preserving the quality and fitness of the cells."

Professor Scott Simon commented: "This is a great opportunity for my laboratory to team up with Avectas' cutting edge technology to modify immune cells for therapeutic uses. A major focus of our group is to understand how chemical and mechanical forces acting on immune cells enable them to localize at sites of inflammation. The partnership with Avectas will help us evaluate how these same forces play a role to delivering mRNA and proteins to immune cells and thereby extend their therapeutic applications."

The collaboration also builds on the strong track record of The Simon Laboratory in publishing their work in academic research journals including a recent manuscript accepted in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology entitled, "Tensile force transmitted through LFA-1 bonds mechanoregulate neutrophil inflammatory response." This upcoming publication exemplifies the approach of The Simon Laboratory to understanding the innate immune response during inflammation. Using cell engineering approaches including gene knockout and mutational studies, The Simon Laboratory examines how a subset of immune cells (e.g., neutrophils) sense the magnitude of fluid drag force due to blood flow to regulate their adhesive anchoring at vascular sites of inflammation.

Professor Scott Simon further commented: "This paper highlights our expertise in delving into the basic cellular and mechanical mechanisms that modify the function of immune cells. We envision using Avectas technology to expand the application of these basic science studies that facilitate immune cell trafficking for therapeutic applications."

About Avectas: 

Avectas is a cell engineering technology business developing a unique delivery platform to enable the ex vivo manufacture of gene-modified cell therapy products, which will retain high in vivo functionality. Our vision is to position the non-viral SOLUPOREtm cell engineering technology to be integrated into manufacturing processes for multiple autologous and allogeneic therapies and commercialized through development and license agreements. For more information, please visit the Company's website at www.avectas.com.

About the Simon Laboratory:

The Simon Laboratory has a wide range of technologies to investigate the function of immune cells as therapeutic agents. The lab develops lab-on-a-chip microfluidic based systems that provide real-time imaging of mechanical forces and the interaction of immune cell membranes with their targets at a molecular level. These studies often integrate gene editing of primary neutrophils and monocytes, as well as cell lines. Investigation using these established technologies in parallel with the Avectas SOLUPOREtm technology is the most direct route available to optimize the application of mechanical and chemical forces for maximizing the therapeutic potential of immune cells. For more information, please visit https://bme.ucdavis.edu/people/scott-simon.

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