Under the terms of the partnership, Evotec and UKE will leverage their complementary strengths for the development of a new cell therapy approach using Engineered Heart Tissue for the treatment of heart failure. Heart failure is frequently associated with ischemic heart disease and often comes with a poor prognosis. Mortality is comparable to that of the most common cancers, with <50% 4-year survival. Treatment of patients suffering from heart failure is expected to deliver significant patient benefit through improved heart function, ultimately leading to an improved prognosis.
Evotec leverages its industry-leading human induced pluripotent stem cells (“hiPSCs”) platform to establish GMP-compatible process development and upscaling for large-scale generation of clinical-grade heart muscle cells known as cardiomyocytes. Evotec will also contribute genetically modified GMP iPSC lines, which contain alterations preventing rejection of the cardiomyocyte-containing product by patient immune systems (“cloaking”), and include additional safety mechanisms to control unwanted proliferation of graft cells. By using these GMP-grade iPSC lines, the project will deliver off-the-shelf products, which can be implanted in broad patient populations with little to no immunosuppression.
UKE applies its proprietary Giga Patch Method for the generation of fully functional heart tissue suitable for cardiac transplantation. Further in vivo validation and development activities will be shared jointly between the partners. Evotec will be responsible for GMP and pre-clinical activities as well as for any subsequent partnering of the programme.
Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, commented: “We are very excited about this collaboration with the UKE. Both Evotec and UKE have developed and refined their respective technology platforms over a number of years and have now decided to jointly drive this cardiac cell therapy programme towards clinical development. We are confident that this partnership will deliver a new therapeutic option for patients who suffer from heart failure.”
Prof. Dr Thomas Eschenhagen, Director of the Institute of Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology at UKE, added: “We are excited about the new opportunities the partnership with Evotec will create. After having worked on means to repair injured heart by 3-dimensional heart muscle patches for over two decades, joining forces with Evotec and its industrialized hiPSC platform and new cell lines, will bring this development to a new stage. We are aiming at the most efficient and safest therapy in the field.”
“We are very happy to see a scientific success story advance to a feat of technology transfer. Translation of scientific insights into therapeutic options is a key mission of our University Medical Center”, says Prof. Dr Blanche Schwappach-Pignataro, the Dean of Faculty of Medicine of the UKE.
No financial terms of the agreement were disclosed.
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