Collaboration Takes Cell and Gene Therapies Closer to Their Full Potential

In September 2020, the first patient was dosed with autologous chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) lymphoma treatment using an automated closed system. “Despite complex and mainly manual processes, we can produce these therapies. Now we must work on making processes reproducible,” says Joerg Ahlgrimm, president and chief operating officer at The Discovery Labs, who was previously head of global C&GT operations at Lonza Pharma & Biotech.

Significant progress has already been made, he notes. “The fact that we can routinely upscale a viral vector to 200–500 L standard represents a huge accomplishment. Years ago, we could not even have imagined reaching this point. And now, we are approaching 2000-L batch sizes,” he adds. The Discovery Labs is building a Center for Breakthrough Medicines to accommodate 80 to 120 C&GT customer development programs at any point in time.

For now, the goals are clear, Ahlgrimm says: stable cell lines, better scalability, smaller footprints, and better automation. He sees autologous therapies dominating with adeno-associated virus (AAV) and lentivirus vectors the dominant vehicles for manufacturing…

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