Danaher partners with UPenn to advance cell therapy tech

The partnership aims to develop technologies to tackle manufacturing bottlenecks in the delivery of engineered cell products.

The multi-year partnership between Danaher Corporation and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) looks to improve the consistency of clinical outcomes for patients by addressing manufacturing challenges associated with cellular immunotherapies.

Both parties said the collaboration is driven by the scale of clinical development identified in the CAR-T cell therapy space. There are six US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved CAR-T cell therapies: Johnson & Johnson’s Carvykti (ciltacabtagene autoleucel; ciltacel), Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel) and Breyanzi  (lisocabtagene maraleucel), Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel), and Kite’s Tecartus (brexucabtagene autoleucel) and Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel).


Moreover, there are at least 560 programs ongoing in clinical trials. With the sector growing at an increased rate, Danaher and UPenn said the industry sees these therapies able to improve the treatment landscape for individuals with limited treatment options, but the space is unable to scale manufacturing in a cost and time-effective manner.

“Our understanding of science is evolving faster than ever, but to efficiently translate these discoveries into potentially life-changing therapies we need an equivalent acceleration in manufacturing innovation,” said Vanessa Almendro, vice president, Science and Technology Innovation, Danaher.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the CAR-T pioneers at UPenn and believe that combining our expertise in science and technology will help bring the next generation of cell therapies to patients faster.”

The company said the Beacon for Cell Therapy Innovation with UPenn is part of the Danaher Beacons program, which is used to fund scientific research carried out inside an academic setting. Overall, the objective of this program is to advance technologies and applications that have the potential to improve health. Specifically, the focus of this Beacon will be to create product solutions that can address bottlenecks affecting aspects of cell therapy manufacturing.

The program has a range of focus areas, such as: genomic medicines, precision diagnostics, next generation biomanufacturing, human systems, and data sciences.

UPenn Immunotherapy Richard Vague professor Carl June said, “we look forward to working together to address some of the current challenges of the complex manufacturing process for CAR-T cell therapy and to maximize the impact of these cellular immunotherapies for more patients in need.”