Eli Lilly, Sigilon Therapeutics collaborate to develop encapsulated cell therapies for type 1 diabetes

Eli Lilly and Sigilon Therapeutics have announced a collaboration to develop encapsulated cell therapies for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Using Sigilon’s Afibromer platform, the partnership will aim to develop a set of encapsulated cell therapies for the treatment of chronic diseases without the need for immunosuppression. To start, the partners will focus on the treatment of insulin cells in patients with type 1 diabetes.

"We are very pleased to partner with Lilly, a worldwide leader in diabetes care, as we seek to apply Sigilon's game-changing technology to the area of insulin-dependent diabetes," commented Paul Wotton, PhD, CEO of Sigilon Therapeutics. "At Sigilon, published studies have shown the ability to overcome the immune foreign body response with our proprietary Afibromer technology. This holds the promise for the creation of state-of-the-art allogeneic cell factories to be transplanted into patients, without the need for immune suppression."

The encapsulated cell therapy products will be made up of induced pluripotent stem cells, programmed into different insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. The encapsulated cells would aim to restore normal insulin production over a certain course of time without triggering an immune reaction.

"At Lilly, we endeavor to change the frontiers of what's possible in medicine, both through our own scientific labs and in collaboration with other leading researchers," said Daniel Skovronsky, MD, PhD, senior vice president for clinical and product development and incoming president of Lilly Research Labs. "We are excited to be collaborating with, and investing in, Sigilon as they seek to develop encapsulated cell therapies, a potentially disruptive technology that could result in meaningful clinical advancements for chronic diseases such as type 1 diabetes."

As mentioned in the agreement, Lilly will receive a license to Sigilion’s Afibromer technology used in islet cell encapsulation while Sigilon will receive an undisclosed investment from Lilly and a payment of $63 million. Sigilon is also able to receive an additional $410 million in development and commercialization on future products is the collaboration results in a successful product.