UCL News


UCL Technology Fund supports next generation cell therapies

20 May 2019

Developing world-class cell therapies to treat a range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as organ transplant rejection, is the focus of a new £35 million company, launched by healthcare company Syncona and backed by UCL Technology Fund.

The company aims to develop engineered T regulatory cell therapies

Quell Therapeutics has been set up with a £34 million investment from health care business Syncona, with a further £1 million contributed by the UCL Technology Fund.

The new company aims to develop engineered T regulatory (Treg) cell therapies. Tregs are a subset of T cells that provide a regulatory function that harnesses their strong immune-suppressive capacity.

Quell Therapeutics will seek to utilise the power of Treg cells to advance therapies for the management and treatment of a range of conditions such as solid organ transplant rejection, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Syncona has significant expertise in the T-cell field and identified Treg cells as an area of high interest in late 2017 and sought to form a company in this emerging area. As part of the process, Syncona identified global key opinion leaders and unified them behind a common goal of building a company to treat conditions of immune dysfunction utilising gene-modified cells. As a result, Quell has been founded in partnership with six leading experts in the Treg field, cell engineering, solid organ transplantation and autoimmune diseases from UCL, Kings College London and Hannover Medical School.

Professors Hans Stauss and Emma Morris (UCL Institute of Immunity & Transplantation) will provide Quell with over fifteen years of experience in T cell engineering and cell gene therapy clinical trials, having been supported by various charities and funding bodies throughout their research careers. 

"Quell brings together the expertise in clinical trials, regulatory T cell biology and gene engineering at UCL, King’s College London and Hannover Medical School," said Professor Stauss.

“It is exciting to have the backing of Syncona to develop a new class of living medicine to avoid transplant rejection and treat autoimmune diseases.”

Professor Morris said: “Quell Therapeutics will build on recent scientific and clinical developments in T cell gene engineering to develop targeted cellular therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and to induce immune tolerance in solid organ transplantation.

“Our aim is to bring gene modified regulatory T cells into the clinic as rapidly as possible for the benefit of patients.”

The Syncona team will work closely with Quell as it builds out its operations and management team. Syncona Chief Executive, Martin Murphy, has been appointed Chairman, whilst Elisa Petris and Freddie Dear, Syncona Partners, will be Director and Observer on the Board, respectively.

Elisa Petris, Partner of Syncona Investment Management Limited, said: “The foundation of Quell represents an exciting opportunity for Syncona to build the leading cell engineering company with the potential to develop a first-in-class therapy in an innovative field.

"Over the last year, we have worked to bring together a group of world-class leaders in their respective fields, developed a strategy for the business and funded the business to enable it to scale and succeed.

"We look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with them as we build out the company’s management team and business plan to deliver their goal of becoming the leader in treating conditions of immune dysfunction utilising gene-modified cells.”

Martin Murphy, Chief Executive of Syncona Investment Management Limited, said: “Quell is the tenth life science company to be founded by Syncona and clearly demonstrates our proactive model in areas of deep domain expertise.

"We identified an innovative area of science with the potential to deliver dramatic impact for patients and worked to build a company around it. It is an exciting addition to our cell therapy platform, where we are strategically and uniquely positioned with expertise across a range of modalities.”



  • Research at UCL Cancer Institute: Credit UCL Imagestore

Media Contact 

Henry Killworth

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E: h.killworth [at] ucl.ac.uk