Cesca and HealthBanks jump on the CAR-TXpress in cell banking JV

Cesca Therapeutics and HealthBanks Biotech say their cell processing tech and banking JV will target CDMOs and immunology researchers.

Under the agreement Cesca’s subsidiary ThermoGenesis will grant the newly formed joint venture – to be called ImmuneCyte Life Sciences – an exclusive license to its CAR-TXpress technology.

The system is used to isolate blood components in a cGMP compliant manner. According to Cesca it is 16 times more efficient than ficoll gradient centrifugation-based cell processing methods.

Image: iStock/CountDuckula

In addition to offering customers the CAR-TXpress system, ImmuneCyte will provide them with “an ability to store their own immune cells at a tangibly lower cost” according to a Cesca press statement.

Cesca will hold a 20% stake in the joint venture, which is due to officially launch by the end of the year.

CEO Chris Xu said, “By applying our proprietary CAR-TXpress technology to immune cell banking and other CDMO cellular manufacturing services, we will allow for the manufacture and production of more effective and less costly immunotherapies.

“The ImmuneCyte joint venture will be paramount to the execution of our strategy to become a preferred cell processing and manufacturing solution provider in the cell and gene therapy field,” Xu added.

Cell banking

ImmuneCyte will also offer “customers the ability to preserve younger, healthier and uncontaminated immune cells, for potential future use in advanced cancer immunotherapy.”

The service is designed to help overcome the hurdles that – according to studies (here and here) cited by Cesca – stop up to half of all cancer patients taking part in CAR-T cell therapy trials.

“Although highly effective, several recent studies on the eligibility of patients to enrol in CAR-T clinical trials showed that as many as 30-50% of cancer patients may not be eligible to enrol or to get sufficient CAR-T cells manufactured for the therapy.”

The firm explained patients can be excluded because they are older – the efficacy of the immune system declines with age – or if they have received chemotherapy that has damaged the bone marrow.

It added that “in many cases of advanced cancer, cancer cells will enter circulation, invade and interfere with the body’s natural production of immune cells.”

Clinical portfolio

ImmuneCyte will also take on Cesca’s clinical portfolio.

The firm said it “will also contribute its clinical development assets to the joint venture, as the company has decided to discontinue these activities in order to focus exclusively on the device business.”

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