Universal Cells Inc. is a development stage company based in Seattle, Washington. Our technology is based on intellectual property developed at the University of Washington, and includes methods for genome editing in human stem cells via homologous recombination with recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors. Our genome editing platform has been used to generate cell lines that do not express human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules on their cell surface, which are critical for determining whether donor tissue will be rejected. Human pluripotent stem cells and cells differentiated from those cells fail to elicit an immune response when HLA antigens are missing from their surface.
Our technology covers the genetic knock-out of HLA class I and/or HLA class II expression in human stem cells and their derivatives. Our portfolio also covers the knock-in of specific single chain HLA molecules that can be reintroduced into otherwise HLA-negative cells in order to avoid “missing self” responses and/or present customized peptide antigens that can be built into these constructs. The combination of these technologies allows us to completely control the HLA repertoire of human stem cells.