Astellas & Universal Cells collaborates to Utilize Universal Donor Cell Technology

Astellas Pharma Inc. and Universal Cells, Inc. announced that Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine (“AIRM”) and Universal Cells have entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement to research, develop and commercialize a novel cell therapy for an undisclosed indication. The collaboration will utilize Universal Cells’ Universal Donor Cell technology to create cell therapy products that can be administered to any recipient without the need for Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) matching.

“I am pleased to enter into this collaboration with Universal Cells for a novel cell therapy using their proprietary Universal Donor Cell technology based on gene editing by rAAV (recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus) and cell engineering of pluripotent stem cells,” said Yoshitsugu Shitaka, Ph.D., president of AIRM. “This is definitely an important step forward in developing a potential new option as an innovative cell therapy to treat devastating diseases with high unmet medical needs.”

While the research will be conducted jointly by AIRM and Universal Cells, Astellas will lead and fully fund the development program and will obtain worldwide rights for commercialization. In consideration for the collaboration and grant of rights, under the terms of the agreement, Universal Cells is eligible to receive up to $9 million in a combination of an upfront payment and research milestones. Universal Cells is also eligible to receive research funding and further clinical development and regulatory milestone payments of up to $115 million, as well as royalties.

“The commitment of Astellas to the field of Regenerative Medicine is a testimony to their vision to turn innovative science into value for patients,” said Claudia Mitchell, CEO of Universal Cells, Inc. “This research collaboration will leverage Universal Cells unique approach to major challenge of cell therapies – the immune rejection of allogeneic cells. We look forward to bringing real world Regenerative Medicine treatments to the market with Astellas.”

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