You’ve recently joined Be The Match BioTherapies full time after two years as a consultant. What is most exciting to you about your new position?
We are on the cusp of a major sea change in the way we treat disease, and in the way new therapies are produced and distributed. I am thrilled to be part of an organization that has played a central role in evolving the original cell therapy—bone marrow transplantation—through our parent company the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/ Be The Match ®.
We are continuing to build out our team here to partner with organizations that are developing and delivering next-generation cellular therapies, and there is a real commitment here at Be The Match BioTherapies to play a central role in the space. We’re supporting the development and commercial launch of several of the first cellular therapy products, which is very exciting.
What are some of the biggest challenges that companies developing cell therapies are facing? How is Be The Match BioTherapies poised to help them?
We are going to see tremendous growth in the autologous cell therapy space over the next few years. We’ve received very clear feedback from the marketplace that one of the challenges facing developers of autologous therapies is in managing cell collection networks as they scale up. We have a national network under contract that we can leverage to help bring consistency, protocol standardization and quality to collection efforts. Bringing on and managing a network of apheresis centers can be challenging, but this is a place we have unique strengths.
Another key area we can provide support is in the supply chain – how to move cells once they are collected. This sounds easy to do, but it is actually very complex. Our parent company manages 22,000 cell and blood shipments per year and can deliver cell therapy shipments anywhere in the world within 48 hours. We have an experienced logistics team in place to handle the work, supported by a sophisticated software to track shipments as well as a highly trained case management team to align stakeholder schedules to meet physician-ordered therapy delivery dates. All of our work is done according to tightly controlled standards, and we have the systems and teams in place to ensure that we don’t stray from these standards even when unpredictable events occur, like September 11, 2001 or the eruption of the Icelandic volcano in 2010, which prevented commercial aircraft from crossing the Atlantic Ocean. In situations like these, our teams and contingency preparedness ensure that patients still get the therapy that their lives depend on. We anticipate that the management of logistics and the cell therapy supply chain presents our largest growth opportunity.
In our previous interview with Dr. Steven Devine, he mentioned the importance of effectively designing clinical studies to evaluate cell therapies. Can you expand on how Be The Match BioTherapies can provide support here?
Our clinical research services and outcomes registry meet a really big need in the industry. Through our global collaborative research partnership the CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), we’re able to leverage years and years of experience in designing, managing, and running clinical trials, many of which are cellular therapy trials, with the goal of promoting evidence-based clinical decision-making. We have data on 500,000 patients, more than 1,300 publications, and more than 225 active research studies underway.
In addition to our support of clinical trials, our team is also well positioned to help clients who are seeking assistance tracking cellular therapy outcomes post-commercial approval. We have a unique capability to partner with these companies, leveraging our experience gathering data on 500,000 transplant recipients.
What is most exciting to you about the cell and gene therapy industry?
We are witnessing the emergence of an entirely new treatment paradigm—unleashing the body’s own capabilities to fight disease. Beyond cancer, there are many other serious diseases that cell therapies may be able to treat. This is a potential revolution for people who, a decade or two ago, might not have had any treatment options.