SQZ Biotech Discusses Potential Benefit of Cell Therapy Platform

November 1, 2018

New data highlights ability of the SQZ cell therapy platform to preserve cellular functions.

On Nov. 1, 2018, SQZ Biotechnologies, a cell therapy company, announced the peer-reviewed publication of data demonstrating key benefits of the SQZ cell therapy platform in a paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) titled “Cell Engineering with Microfluidic Squeezing Preserves Functionality of Primary Immune Cells In Vivo.” 

“At SQZ, we believe in the enormous potential of cell-based therapies. The work put forth in this paper demonstrates that electroporation, the widely used technology behind many gene-edited cell therapies, such as modified T-cell treatments, can lead to unintended long-term biological consequences that could severely limit the therapeutic potential of engineered cells. Strikingly, the SQZ cell therapy platform does not lead to these negative functional changes,” said Armon Sharei, PhD, CEO and founder of SQZ Biotech and the senior author on the paper, in a company press release. “These data deepen our conviction that the SQZ platform has unique potential to disrupt today’s engineered cell therapies and transform the lives of patients suffering from a range of debilitating diseases.” 

In the study, researchers conducted a detailed analysis to determine the downstream functional consequences of electroporation as compared to the SQZ cell therapy platform, a microfluidic membrane deformation technique, termed ‘squeezing’. Cells modified using electroporation showed significant changes in gene expression that resulted in long-lasting functional deficiencies in normal cellular activity. In contrast, cells modified via squeezing exhibited minimal changes in gene expression and preserved key biological functions essential for maintaining therapeutic potential.

The differences in function were further confirmed in a therapeutic tumor model in which electroporated T cells edited for programmed cell death protein (PD)-1 had deficiencies in their biological activity, whereas PD-1-edited squeezed cells maintained their therapeutic capacity, the study showed.  

“Safe, efficient, and scalable modification of cells is an essential prerequisite for the development of successful cell-based therapies,” said Robert Langer, institute professor at MIT, SQZ founder, and board member, in the company press release. “SQZ has already demonstrated the ability to enable robust and scalable engineering of cell therapies. In this comparative study, detailed transcriptome, protein, and functional profiling revealed that cell engineering via electroporation leads to significant changes across all three parameters but that cells engineered using the SQZ cell therapy platform showed few changes. I am encouraged to see further published evidence of the superiority of the SQZ platform in preserving underlying cellular functions essential for cell therapies.”

Source: SQZ Biotechnologies