Evotec Leverages Sernova’s Cell Pouch to Develop Diabetes Stem Cell Treatment
Evotec, a Germany-based induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) development company, made a €15 million equity investment in Sernova to establish a strategic partnership to leverage Sernova’s Cell Pouch System technology to develop a “functional cure” for insulin-dependent diabetes. Sernova confirmed it will receive an additional €5 million equity investment by August 31, 2022.
Terms and Conditions of the Partnership
In addition to the €20 million investment, Sernova acquired an option for an exclusive global license to Evotec’s iPSC-based beta cells (cells that make insulin) to treat patients with insulin-dependent diabetes. The two companies will jointly fund the preclinical developments until the FDA accepts an Investigational New Drug Application (IND). After the IND acceptance, Sernova will have the right to exercise the global license. Sernova and Evotec will discuss the terms of joint funding again if the drug is commercialized.
Dr. Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, said, “We searched long and hard for the right partner. Sernova clearly ticks all boxes with their clinically validated Cell Pouch™ technology, which fits perfectly to Evotec’s iPSC-based beta cells.”
Dr. Dohrmann will join Sernova’s board of directors as part of the partnership. With over 25 years of experience, the strategic addition of Dr. Dohrmann is sure to add substance to the partnership.
Filling Sernova’s Cell Pouches With Evotec’s Beta Cells
Evotec said in the announcement that the partnership will leverage the use of iPSC-based beta cells from its QRbeta initiative. The beta cells in question are designed to be functionally equivalent to human islets in normalizing blood glucose. Islets are micro-organs in the body that regulate glucose homeostasis. Evotec said the iPSC-based technology has shown promise in several in vivo models.
The other half of the partnership includes Sernova’s Cell Pouch technology, an implantable and scalable medical device that provides a natural environment in the body for housing and long-term survival and function for therapeutic cells. The Cell Pouch is approved by the FDA for permanent use in the human body and is currently undergoing a Phase 2 clinical trial including 7 participants. The study completion date is set for July 2023.
With Sernova’s proprietary Cell Pouch technology and Evotec’s beta cells, the two hope to provide a beta cell replacement therapy that could produce unlimited insulin-producing cells. This breakthrough has the potential to provide a favorable treatment alternative for diabetes patients who regularly undergo insulin injections.
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