Last month, Jamie Margolis, Ph.D., who has been with Be The Match BioTherapies® since its inception, was promoted to Director of Product Development Operations. We spoke with her about key challenges the cell therapy industry is facing and how Be The Match BioTherapies is positioned, and growing, to help companies advance their cell or gene therapies.
You’ve been at Be The Match BioTherapies since its founding. How has the organization grown and developed over the past several years?
I came to Be The Match BioTherapies before it became an official subsidiary of the National Marrow Donor Program®/Be The Match® in January 2016. We realized the promise of the cell therapy industry, and knew that our expertise in facilitating stem cell therapies could help many of these therapies advance both faster and more effectively. My role is to help leverage the capabilities and great experience of our organization, and configure them to meet new client needs.
In the time since I’ve been with the organization, we have developed concrete offerings for companies in the cell and gene therapy space, which we are continually enhancing as the industry advances. We are now a recognized entity and partnering with several companies developing both allogeneic and autologous therapies.
What is most important about the work that Be The Match BioTherapies does for its client base?
We are, and always have been, a patient-focused organization. Because we’ve been in the business for more than 30 years, we understand the unique needs of the patients, apheresis centers, transplant centers, as well as our clients. In working with clients in the cell therapy space, our ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on patients’ lives, and we can do that by speeding the development of companies’ innovative treatments. We are supporting this work so that patients can have the best possible outcomes.
What are some of the key goals you’ll be helping Be The Match BioTherapies work toward during the upcoming year?
We are always enhancing our capabilities to meet the evolving needs of companies within the cell and gene therapy space. One key need that’s emerged in the industry is the need to standardize the apheresis collection process, both within a center and across expansive networks. We want to help develop standard practices and processes for the industry, so that we can keep treatment centers from growing overwhelmed as new therapies are approved, and help patients get the therapies they need.
What are some of the challenges that companies developing cell therapies are facing? How is Be The Match BioTherapies poised to help them?
One of the big challenges companies face is building their own network of apheresis and transplant center sites. Getting them audited, contracted and trained on each unique protocol is a complex process. One of our goals is to continue to help our clients deliver the best product by managing and developing apheresis networks. By leveraging our current network relationships, we can identify the centers best suited for specific therapies, and then develop onboarding, training, and standardization procedures tailored specifically for each client.
Managing outcomes can be another challenge. Our parent company has a long history of collecting and maintaining outcomes data through its research program the CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®). Based on this experience, we’ve developed an established platform for managing this data and can help companies collect this critical information.
Additionally, companies developing allogeneic therapies may have trouble finding donors with specific attributes. Our specialty is customized donor selection. Because of the depth of our donor pool, we are able to screen for donors based on multiple sets of desired attributes—including specific donor attributes or the presence of particular infectious disease markers or genetic traits. We consent and re-consent donors for all discovery, pre-clinical, clinical and commercial needs.
What is most exciting to you about the cell and gene therapy industry? Are there any developing stories you’ll be following in the months and years to come?
The cell therapy world is exploding. In some areas, clinical trials are just ramping up, but the promise is great. There’s so much potential to provide curative therapies for challenging diseases in areas where there was previously little to no treatment options. This is what drives me every day. I love being part of a team that is working to advance life-saving science and bring positive outcomes to patients.