Seattle, WAUniversal Cells Inc. (Seattle WA, USA) and HEALIOS K.K. (“Healios”) (Tokyo, Japan) have entered into a collaborative research and exclusive option agreement to create therapeutic off-the-shelf iPSCs. The partnership will focus on the production of Universal Donor iPSCs by editing the genes required for antigen presentation.

“Partnering with the world’s leading company in iPSC therapeutics, and the leading nation for accelerated regulatory approval for regenerative medicine products is a significant step towards bringing universal donor cells into the clinic”, commented Dr. Mitchell, CEO of Universal Cells.

Universal Cells’ technology is based on discoveries by Dr. David Russell, the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Universal Cells, and a world-renowned leader in gene editing. Universal Cells has licensed patents on recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV)-mediated gene editing, and HLA engineering.

With Universal Cells’ proprietary technology, Healios intends to develop next-generation allogeneic iPSCs that are compatible with everyone. Although autologous iPSC manufacturing is feasible, an off-the-shelf cell line has the potential to revolutionize the field of cell therapy by enabling the scalable production of safe, effective, and predictable treatments.

“iPSC regenerative medicine is our core business. When iPSC regenerative medicine with less risk of transplant rejection can be developed from iPS cells regardless of HLA type, safety of treatment is improved, and treatments for a variety of diseases can be developed. This technology enhances clinical application of iPS cell technology,” commented Dr. Hardy Kagimoto, President, representative director and CEO of Healios.

During the option period, Universal Cells will engineer Healios’ clinical-grade iPSCs. The exclusive option is for the treatment of dry/wet AMD, and for use with Healios’ proprietary Organ Bud technology in liver and kidney clinical fields.

About Universal Cells Inc.

Universal Cells is a therapeutic gene editing company developing proprietary nuclease-free genome editing technologies that allow efficient and accurate editing of any gene without cutting the genome. The company is using this platform to create cell therapies that are rejection-free, off-the-shelf products that can be administered to any recipient without the need for immunosuppressive drugs.

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Healios is a biotechnology company leading the field of iPS cell-based products for regenerative medicine. It was founded in 2011, and listed on the stock exchange (Tokyo Security Exchange Mothers: 4593) in 2015. Healios is developing a product for treatment of age-related macular degeneration (an intractable ocular disease) jointly with Suimitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. in Japan. Healios also has started R&D activities for regenerative medicine capable of creating functional human organs (three-dimensional organs, “organ bud” platform technology) jointly with Yokohama City University. Moreover, in January 2016, the company executed the exclusive license agreement with Athersys, Inc. for Japanese development and distribution of products used in cellular therapy for ischemic stroke making use of the MultiStem® product.

Healios, continues to be innovative company to move forward regenerative medicine as a solution to the significant global issue of “aging society.” (


Gregory Block

VP Business Development