Massachusetts Biotech Startup Sigilon Launches With $23.5 Million

Massachusetts Biotech Startup Sigilon Launches With $23.5 Million June 21, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Cambridge, Mass. - Sigilon Therapeutics launched with a $23.5 million capitalization by Flagship Pioneering today. Sigilon will focus on fibrosis-related diseases.

The company’s scientific founders are Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Professor of Applied Biology, Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT.

Flagship’s discovery group, VentureLabs, has been conducting research on permeable biomaterials that allow cells to be implanted in tissue in order to deliver proteins without triggering fibrosis. They will now work on the tech at Sigilon.

“Imagine the potential of a ‘living therapeutic’ that could be implanted in the body and manufacture and release therapeutic proteins at steady levels for long periods of time,” said Paul Wotton, Sigilon’s chief executive officer and board director, in a statement, “avoiding the critical limitations of intermittent infusion required with current therapies. Our proprietary approach to cell engineering and Afibromer technology, together with the deep experience of our leadership, allow us to realize this potential and restore health and quality of life for many patients.”

Fibrosis is a natural scarring process where the body isolates foreign materials, but this also prevents certain types of medications access to the source of the infection or disease. Capsules developed with Afibromers have showed high cell survival and function for longer periods of time.

“Harnessing the power of cells to treat diseases has been a holy grail for medicine since the advent of biotechnology,” said Douglas Cole, Flagship Pioneering managing partner and founding chairman of the Sigilon board of directors, in a statement. “It opens the possibility of treating patients with serious illnesses without the risk of immunosuppression or genetic manipulation. Following two years of forming the innovation and IP foundations within Flagship VentureLabs, Sigilon Therapeutics is poised to leverage its unique approach to engineering controllable and dose-adjustable cell systems to provide a natural, effective form of delivery that vastly expands therapeutic options for patients and physicians.”

The technology also has an extended-release component. Max Stendahl, writing for the Boston Business Journal, says, “Once implanted, the capsules would steadily deliver proteins over an extended period, obviating the need for repeated injections or pills. And unlike experimental gene therapy or gene editing treatments, which could raise long-term safety concerns, the capsules could simply be removed if needed.”

Currently in preclinical development, the company’s initial focus will be on blood and endocrine disorders, in addition to enzyme deficiencies.

Sigilon has 22 employees. It is located at 161 First Street in Kendall Square, the former headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics.

The company’s management team is made up of CEO Paul Wotton, former head of Ocata Therapeutics, chief technology officer David Perritt and strategy and operations head Devyn Smith, both formerly with Pfizer . James Watson, Sigilon’s chief business officer, was formerly chief business officer at Alvine Pharmaceuticals.

Flagship Pioneering has capitalized its portfolio with over $1 billion from $1.75 billion of aggregate investor capital across five funds. Its portfolio includes Agios Pharmaceuticals , Editas Medicine , Seres Therapeutics and Syros Pharmaceuticals. Its private portfolio companies include Axcella Health, Indigo Agriculture, Moderna Therapeutics and Rubius Therapeutics.

Flagship VentureLabs is described as its “institutional innovation foundry … where Flagship’s team of scientific entrepreneurs systematically evolves enterprising ideas into new fields or previously undiscovered areas of science into real-world inventions and ventures.”

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