Robo-bloc: Multiply labs welcomes Thermo Fisher and Charles River

Thermo Fisher Scientific and Charles River will join Multiply Labs, which aims to develop and validate a robotic manufacturing system that can produce gene modified cell therapies.

Multiply Labs founded the robotic cell therapy manufacturing Consortium in 2021 and had initial participation from Cytiva and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Now, Thermo Fisher and Charles River Laboratories have joined as Consortium members.

According to Multiply Labs, traditional manufacturing processes can require hours of manual manipulation of cells and consumables, including a highly skilled workforce to develop cell therapy products. In turn, this hinders the ability to produce cell therapies at scale, quickly, and affordably.

Image: c/o Multiply Labs

To minimize time, cost and bottlenecks, the Consortium intends to demonstrate that robotic technology can be used effectively in clinical and commercial applications.

“The Consortium’s robotics development activities are coordinated by Multiply Labs, while the cell manufacturing process is overseen by UCSF through a sponsored research agreement,” Betty Woo, vice president and general manager of cell and gene therapy at Thermo Fisher Scientific told BioProcess Insider.

“This unprecedented alliance brings together the global leaders in cell therapy manufacturing technologies, with the common goal of pioneering the deployment of robotic technology and achieving truly industrial scale. Each Consortium member contributes their own world-leading technology for cell therapy manufacturing.”

Thermo Fisher will contribute its incubation technology and Woo said the firm aims “to apply physical and digital automation throughout the manufacturing process.” Meanwhile, Charles River will focus on the automation of quality control testing, using its Celsis rapid microbial detection platform.

“We are building upon our many investments in cell therapy overall and in our core capabilities. Our participation in the Consortium complements existing Thermo Fisher investments in innovation, workforce development, contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) capacity, and cell manufacturing facilities,” said Woo.

The financial details of the consortium are not disclosed but it aims to demonstrate the progress it has made at UCSF by the end of 2022.