Excitement continues to grow around the cell and gene therapy industries, as evidenced by the growing number of investments in the field. BioCentury reports that in the first several months of 2018, cell and gene therapy companies raised $2.3 billion in equity financing. Total fundraising for 2018 is expected to surpass the $4.5 billion raised last year.
Meanwhile, the number of therapies in development is also increasing. Endpoints News reported that the nonprofit Cancer Research Institute tracked over 750 cell therapies currently in the pipeline with over half of them being CAR-T therapies. The international market is expanding as well – while about 340 of the current programs are in the U.S., some 200 are in China. Industry stakeholders are working to loosen the manufacturing bottleneck by investing in cell manufacturing facilities, such as the recently-opened 30,000 square-foot space at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which should make it increasingly easier to move cell therapy programs toward the clinic.
The same will soon be true for gene therapy. On May 22, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced a commitment to fast-track approval of gene therapy products, according to Bloomberg News. His priority is the inherited blood clotting disorder hemophilia, which was spotlighted recently when Spark Therapeutics, BioMarin Pharmaceutical and UniQure all presented positive data from their hemophilia research programs.
Like gene therapy, cell therapy invites innovation. While cancer has historically been the main disease target for cell therapies, biotech companies are also expanding into other disease areas, one example being diabetes. In May alone, Copenhagen-based Novo Nordisk announced a renewed commitment to develop stem cell therapies for Type I diabetes, researchers successfully tissue-engineered pancreatic islets to secrete insulin when transplanted in mice, and diabetes-focused startup Semma Therapeutics appointed cell therapy expert Bastiano Sanna as their new CEO. There’s strong potential for a cell therapy treatment for diabetes on the horizon.