BlueRock and Senti Collaborate to Build Smarter, Disease-Fighting Cell Therapies


Determined to take its next-generation engineered cell therapies to the next level, BlueRock Therapeutics is teaming up with Senti Biosciences with futuristic medicines in mind.  

BlueRock has proved its merit with a therapy for Parkinson’s disease with preclinical data demonstrating the ability to restore motor function and increase dopamine release over time. A Phase I trial. for the drug started in Canada last month.  

Using BlueRock’s cell+gene platform to create universal pluripotent stem cells, Senti will step in to design, build and test Smart Sensors and Regulator Dials in BlueRock’s regenerative medicine candidates. The addition of Senti’s gene circuits will precisely control cell differentiation and therapeutic payload expression.  

“There is a tremendous opportunity at the intersection of cell, gene and systems biology. With control of all three axes, we believe we can further engineer the cell’s inherent potential to integrate multiple physiologic inputs to produce powerful therapeutic benefit in vivo,” said Emile Nuwaysir, CEO of BlueRock. 

Senti founder Tim Lu compared the company’s gene circuit tech to that of a Roomba vacuum in a TedMed talk. While the Roomba can constantly calculate where it’s been, where it needs to go next, and where the mess is to clean your home effectively, Senti is building cells that can compute information to do the same. Therapies of the future would enter the body inactive, go to the area of the body where needed and switch on to affect only the cells required to treat the disease.  

Lu’s company has demonstrated how this can work in cancer cells. Through an "and" logic gate, the cancer therapy is designed to only attack when it senses two cancer signatures, over just one, ensuring it kills cancer cells and not healthy cells. The program then kills the cancer cell directly and recruits the rest of the immune system into the battle to reduce the ability of tumor cells to escape.  

This latest team up with BlueRock would not only program cells that would only activate in the presence of a particular set of indicators but also come with fine tuning. After the therapy has already entered the body, doctors could introduce an already FDA-approved small molecule drug to increase or decrease the delivered therapeutic payload. Most current cell and gene therapies cannot be adjusted once a patient has received them.  

While the companies chose not to disclose the target of their programs at what is a very early stage of the collaboration, the main areas of focus, according to BlueRock, are neurology, immunology and cardiology.  

Lu commented, “We are engineering gene circuits to reprogram cells with biological logic to sense inputs, compute decisions and respond to their cellular environments. By combining BlueRock’s iPSC platform with our sophisticated gene circuits, we believe that we have the potential to create the next generation of programmable regenerative medicines together.” 

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