Orgenesis inks Koligo buyout to gain COVID-19 cell therapy

Orgenesis has struck a deal to acquire Koligo Therapeutics. The takeover will give Orgenesis control of an autologous cell therapy treatment for respiratory disease caused by COVID-19. 

Koligo’s business is built on technologies for developing autologous cell therapies, including a system for printing 3D cell and tissue constructs with a vascular network. In the case of the COVID-19 program KT-PC-301, Koligo is using its technologies to harvest fat from patients infected with the coronavirus and process the material into a cell therapy.

The COVID-19 therapy contains mesenchymal stem cells, vascular endothelial cells and immune cells that Koligo expects to migrate to the lung and other sites of inflammation when readministered back into the patient. By getting the cells to sites of inflammation, Koligo thinks it may be able to improve oxygenation, support antibody production and induce an anti-inflammatory effect. Those effects may help patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by the pandemic coronavirus. 

Orgenesis is set to pay $15 million in stock to acquire KT-PC-301 and the rest of Koligo’s assets. After closing the takeover, Orgenesis will keep members of Koligo’s management including CEO Matthew Lehman and Chief Medical Officer Michael Hughes on to handle work related to the acquired assets. The start of a 75-subject phase 2 trial of KT-PC-301 is high on Koligo’s to-do list. 

The deal will also give Orgenesis a commercially available treatment for chronic and recurrent acute pancreatitis and Koligo’s 3D-V bioprinting technology. The commercial product, Kyslecel, is made by resecting the pancreas from a patient, isolating pancreatic islet cells and infusing the minimally modified islets back into the patient.

Koligo has treated 40 patients with Kyslecel at six U.S. hospitals through a commercial pilot, generating revenues of around $2 million. Lehman expects the commercialization effort to benefit from the support of Orgenesis, which is connected to a network of hospitals and healthcare centers through its own point-of-care cell therapy platform.

Orgenesis sees its platform as complementary to the tools it is set to acquire from Koligo, leading CEO Vered Caplan to frame the takeover as a boost for his effort to “implement new technologies to improve efficacy and lower the costs of cell and gene therapies.” Caplan, in a statement to disclose the takeover, added that COVID-19 cell therapy KT-PC-301 may have applications in the treatment of other acute and chronic respiratory indications.