For the Be The Match BioTherapies team, the holiday season means conferences—and first up this December was the annual Cell Therapy Manufacturing & Gene Therapy Congress.
This year’s Congress, held at the beautiful RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam, came on the heels of the first commercial approvals of genetically-modified cell therapies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But, rather than celebrate CAR-T’s commercial splash, many of the attendees turned their attention to the practical challenges facing the industry in the months and years ahead.
The first panel session ‘The Realities of Manufacturing and Commercializing CAR-T cells and Gene Therapies,’ wasted no time highlighting the limitations of current manufacturing technology, and the need for innovation in the field if cell therapy is going to be successful on a commercial scale.
Of particular interest to many attendees was the issue of automation, and how companies are scaling up, and scaling out, their manufacturing units to reduce cost and meet the expected demand. Dolores Baksh discussed GE’s comprehensive manufacturing platform, which has expanded to include a multitude of automated systems from apheresis collection all the way through to the actual production of the CAR-T therapies. Nina Bauer from Lonza Biologics discussed their recent investment in Octane Biotech’s Cocoon cell production platform for personalized cell therapy.
Supply chain logistics also emerged as a hot topic. As more cell and gene therapies enter the market, the supply chains are becoming more complex. Health care providers and industry stakeholders are turning to technology—such as MatchSource®, Be The Match BioTherapies’ supply-chain technology platform—to provide integrated solutions, address gaps in process and increase needle-to-needle efficiency for stakeholders at every level. During a presentation on the topic, Be The Match BioTherapies president, Amy Ronneberg, discussed the complexities of the cell therapy supply chain, and offered strategies for mitigating risk to successfully deliver cell therapies to patients in need.
The big takeaway from the conference? Cell and gene therapies have officially arrived, but their future success will require continued innovation, integration and coordination between suppliers and manufacturers.