NEW YORK & SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Emendo Biotherapeutics, a next-generation CRISPR biotech expanding the reach of gene editing therapeutics, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute today announced a research collaboration to investigate how hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) extracted from patients with severe congenital neutropenia (SCN) respond to priming treatments ahead of administering a CRISPR-based therapeutic.
ELANE-related SCN, also known as SCN1, is a rare, autosomal dominant disease in which a mutation occurs in one allele of the ELANE gene, thereby preventing HSCs from differentiating into white blood cells, specifically neutrophils, which leaves the patient highly susceptible to recurrent bacterial infections, osteoporosis, developmental delays and abnormalities.
“Patients with SCN often suffer from reduced quality of life due to the lack of improvements in the standard of care,” said Dr. David Rawlings, Division Chief of Immunology at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Director of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “These children are immunocompromised, and, as a result, we feel a great sense of urgency to ensure we’re exploring all possible avenues towards a solution.”
“Seattle Children’s collaboration with Emendo, utilizing its unique approach to edit only the mutated allele with CRISPR, will enable us to address the unmet needs of SCN at the very core,” added Rawlings, who also serves as a professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We’re excited about this opportunity, and look forward to continuing the collaboration beyond this initial study.”
Editing the mutated ELANE gene with CRISPR first requires overcoming a technological hurdle: Only the mutated allele must be targeted, while the healthy allele remains intact. Emendo engineered its roster of next-generation CRISPR nucleases to be biologically active and so specific that they can differentiate between two alleles of the same gene. EMD-101, Emendo’s lead therapeutic candidate for SCN, was specifically engineered to target the mutant ELANE allele.
HSCs have been widely studied as a treatment for sickle cell anemia and cancer, as well as a potential therapy to treat organ and tissue damage. However, HSCs require initial priming prior to stem cell transplantation, which is typically done by administering G-CSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Yet, the same drug is also a short-term treatment for SCN patients.
To better understand how SCN patients would respond to a priming dose of G-CSF and plerixafor, Emendo will evaluate the mobilization of HSCs excised from a small group of patients with SCN, which would be gene-edited later. Concurrently, Seattle Children’s will evaluate the composition of the HSCs obtained from the same patients. Prior mouse studies conducted by Emendo have shown that human cells edited to excise the disease-causing ELANE allele sufficiently engrafted and replaced existing diseased cells, restoring proper neutrophil differentiation.
“By combining our allele-specific genome editing technology with Seattle Children’s renowned expertise in SCN — spearheaded by Dr. Rawlings — we are laying the foundation for future clinical trials that could lead to potential therapies to treat the disease,” said David Baram, Ph.D., CEO of Emendo. “Our portfolio of engineered nucleases tailored to any gene or allele gives us the unique opportunity to tackle the inherent challenges of SCN. Through this collaboration we’ll be able to provide stronger evidence and further proof points for the capabilities of our technology.”
Based on the outcome of the research, a protocol for a clinical trial could be developed with an expected initiation in late 2022, pending regulatory approval. Seattle Children’s has certain preferred rights to serve as a clinical trial site.
About Emendo Biotherapeutics
EmendoBio is a next generation CRISPR gene editing company leveraging dual proprietary technology platforms to enable high precision gene editing throughout the genome. EmendoBio’s novel nuclease discovery platform broadens the targetable range of the genome while its target-specific optimization platform enables highly precise editing, including allele specific editing, while maintaining high efficiencies. The capabilities of the OMNI technology platforms, along with deep expertise in genomic medicine, protein engineering and therapeutic development, provide EmendoBio with a unique advantage when addressing indications within hematology, oncology, ophthalmology and other disease areas. For more information please visit us at www.emendobio.com.
About Seattle Children’s
Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.
Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research. Join Seattle Children’s bold initiative – It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children’s – to transform children’s health for generations to come.