SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nohla Therapeutics Inc. (Nohla), a new cellular therapies start-up based in Seattle, Washington, is pleased to announce the signing of an exclusive licensing and collaboration agreement with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch). Nohla has also secured an investment term sheet for a USD $20M investment round which it expects to close in December, and has also announced several high profile appointments to its Scientific Advisory Board and Clinical Advisory Board.
The transaction with the Fred Hutch provides Nohla with a 20 year worldwide exclusive licensing agreement to seven patent families and know-how relating to an ex vivo expanded umbilical cord blood platform. Two INDs also transfer as part of the transaction. Patents under this agreement cover the use of a non-HLA matched expanded cord blood product which has been used in a number of clinical trials already. The ex vivo expanded allogeneic cord blood product can be manufactured to provide a truly “off the shelf” cell therapy distinct from several other emerging technologies.
In addition to the license agreement, Nohla has executed a five year Collaboration Agreement with Fred Hutch, in the form of sponsored research agreement. The Collaboration Agreement will accelerate both pre-clinical and clinical research being conducted within labs at the Fred Hutch. The Collaboration commitment consists of USD $1.5M per annum with initial capital directed toward manufacturing transfer.
Nohla’s most progressed clinical trial, currently enrolling, is a multi-center, randomized Phase IIb trial in which patients undergoing a conventional cord blood transplant are randomized to receive the non-HLA matched ex vivo expanded umbilical cord blood product as an adjuvant graft. In the pilot safety trial using the non-HLA matched ex vivo expanded cord blood product in the cord blood transplant setting, rates of acute graft-versus-host disease were significantly lowered and so too were rates of transplant related mortality in addition to enhancing the kinetics of hematopoietic recovery.
Commenting on the agreement, Nohla CEO Benjamin Bergo said, “we are delighted with the relationship we have formed with the scientific inventors and research team at Fred Hutch, and our executive team is fully committed to further developing and commercialising what we see as a transformative and truly ‘off the shelf’ cell therapy.”
Joining the executive team as Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Colleen Delaney from the Fred Hutch. Dr Delaney is a key inventor and the translational leader of the ex vivo expanded umbilical cord blood platform. “I am very excited to bring this product to market, a product which has helped so many patients already, and one that we see making a tremendous impact across a range of disease indications”, said Dr Delaney.
Dr. Irwin Bernstein who is a co-inventor of the company’s technology platform and is currently Chief of the Hematology, Oncology, and Bone Marrow Transplantation divisions at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, has joined the company’s Scientific Advisory Board.
Also joining Nohla from the Fred Hutch is Faculty member Dr. Shelly Heimfeld who joins the company as Interim Chair of the Scientific and Clinical Advisory Boards, bringing a wealth of experience in the manufacture of cellular therapies.
Professor Mark Kirkland, Chief Scientific Officer of Nohla and co-founder of Australia’s largest private cord blood bank stated, “We’re very pleased to bring together our shared vision of this ex vivo expanded cord blood product, with complementary capability in Australia.”
Mr. Michael Sistenich has joined the company as Head of Corporate Development, following an 18 year career in hedge funds management and most recently in investment banking. Mr. Darren Scotti joins as Company Secretary and CFO. Dr. Jason Carstens, formerly a Director of Manufacturing at Fred Hutch joins Nohla as VP of Manufacturing, and Ms. Heather Brammer has joined the company, also from the Cord Blood Program at the Fred Hutch as Director of Program Management. Mr. Guy Moeneclaey has joined the company as Research Manager and Dr. Claudia Gregoria-King as Clinical Operations Manager.
About Nohla Therapeutics
Nohla’s goal is to transform the medical care options for patients with our expanded cord blood product. The proprietary expansion platform multiplies the number of stem cells found in cord blood donations up to 500 times. This landmark advance made cord blood a viable alternative to adult bone marrow in the transplant setting.
Nohla’s expanded cord blood product can be stored for off-the-shelf use at any time. Our products can be used in conjunction with other therapies to give patients a bridge of infection-fighting cells while they wait for immune system recovery. With a broadly applicable expanded cord blood platform, we will provide superior treatment options across many disease indications.