Patients awaiting critical organ, tissue and cell transplants are in a constant state of worry. Will they get a match in time? Will it be successful? What is the long-term prognosis? In the United States alone, more than 110,000 patients are on the organ transplant waitlist, with approximately 20 patients dying per day because they are unable to find a suitable organ donor.
But promising new developments at eGenesis, a biotechnology company, are providing hope to those patients whose fates otherwise depend largely on supply, demand and a combination of timing and good fortune. eGenesis is using a breakthrough gene editing technology to develop safe and effective human-transplantable organs to address the global organ shortage.
eGenesis was founded in Cambridge, Mass. in 2015 by a group of founders, including CRISPR and genomics pioneer, Dr. George Church and funded by a syndicate of legendary venture capitalists. Goodwin’s Life Sciences Practice has taken the lead in representing eGenesis since 2017, and the firm has advised the company on matters ranging from financing rounds to a joint venture collaboration with a Chinese-based sister company.
The focus of the company is to rapidly advance an entirely new set of options across the transplantation field. In particular, eGenesis is focusing on xenotransplantation, or the transplantation of organs, tissue and cells from one species into another. The concept has been explored for several decades, with the pig considered the most suitable donor for humans.
However, until the development of modern gene editing tools, incompatibilities related to virology and immunology have prevented porcine organ xenotransplantation from entering clinical development. eGenesis uses gene editing technology such as CRISPR to directly address the key virology and immunology hurdles that have impeded xenotransplantation to date.
“The concept of cross-species organ replacement, known as xenotransplantation, has re-emerged due to recent advancements in gene editing led by eGenesis, and will become a safe and effective solution for the hundreds of thousands of patients currently on the organ transplant waitlist globally,” said Paul Sekhri, president and chief executive officer of eGenesis.