Q: As Be The Match BioTherapies enters its third year, could you share what you see as some of the organization’s biggest achievements?
A: There are three major achievements that I’d like to highlight.
First, we are proud to be partnering with some truly innovative companies in the cell therapy space to help bring life-saving therapies to market. Last year, we made our first investments in two different companies. We participated in the Series B financing round for Magenta Therapeutics, a company developing therapies to improve and expand the use of curative stem cell transplantation. In addition, we invested in Tmunity Therapeutics, a private clinical-stage biotherapeutics company developing the next generation of T-cell therapies.
Second, we launched MatchSourceSM, an integrated supply chain platform that supports case management, scheduling, logistics, tracking and visibility. This end-to-end technology platform is designed to support the needs of companies in the autologous and allogeneic cell and gene therapy industry.
And third, from a team perspective, we have created a dream team of talent, and the group we have brought together is second to none.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges that cell therapy companies are facing? How is Be The Match BioTherapies positioned to help solve them?
A: So many cell therapy companies right now are focused on clinical development – advancing their technologies, launching and running clinical trials – and that’s where they should be focused. However, many companies will likely struggle with supply chain management when they scale up production from small, clinical study volumes to commercial volumes.
A key strength of Be The Match BioTherapies is in global logistics management across the cell therapy delivery supply chain. We offer end-to-end logistics support, including working with apheresis centers to ensure that all collections are performed within appropriate regulatory standards, both in the U.S. and across the world. Timeliness is critical in a logistics environment where exceptions are the norm. Our goal is to ensure that patients are provided timely access to life-saving cellular therapies, and we help to accomplish this by making sure that cell collection, cell transport, cellular therapy manufacture, and therapy delivery are coordinated to meet requirements.
Q: What are the organization’s priorities and goals for 2018?
A: We are hoping to build out our client base not just in the U.S., but worldwide. Our parent organization, National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® has long had relationships with apheresis networks in countries across the world, and we have the opportunity to expand further into more markets, including the EU, Asia and Australia, to name a few.
In addition, we’re looking for further opportunities to partner with companies pioneering new cell therapies in hematology, oncology, autoimmune diseases, monogenic disorders and beyond. We are continuing to grow and expand our business development and sales teams, and will be hiring in Minneapolis, as well as on both the East and West Coasts.
Q: Be The Match BioTherapies last year made investments in Magenta and Tmunity. What is the organization’s current position on investing in stem cell therapy companies?
A: We are always keeping our eyes open for great organizations that are moving the science forward and will impact the greatest number of patients. We are not committed to a certain number of investments in a certain year, which gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility.
Q: From an industry perspective, what is most exciting to you about the cell therapy space right now?
A: There are so many breakthroughs occurring in the cell and gene therapy industry right now. For the first time ever, personalized therapies are potentially opening up new options for patients, particularly those with refractory disease. It is so exciting to be able to contribute to the race to cure cancer.