Thermo Fisher to make T cells for Torque at new NJ plant

Thermo Fisher will staff and operate a modular and fully-closed cell therapy facility in New Jersey on behalf of Torque.

The 10,000 square-foot facility in Princeton, New Jersey is set to come online in 2019 and will support Torque’s immuno-oncology ‘Deep-Primed T Cell’ candidates. The products use the firm’s cell process engineering technologies, which do not require genetic engineering of the T cells, and lead candidate TRQ1501 (Deep IL-15 primed T cells) is set to begin Phase I/II clinical trials for hematologic and solid tumors in the first quarter of 2019.

Financial details have not been divulged, but a Torque spokesperson told this publication: “Thermo will be responsible for staffing and operating the facility,” using Torque’s own Slipstream platform technology.

Image: iStock/Kathleen Gail

Thermo Fisher is not a pureplay contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) by name, but does own small and large molecule CDMO Patheon.

A Thermo Fisher spokesperson told this publication: “We are operating the facility as a CDMO, a business unit within our API division of Thermo Fisher’s Pharma Services.”

“With regard to the Patheon name, we use the Patheon and Fisher Clinical names for product branding purposes.”

Slipstream process

While capacity at the New Jersey facility was also not disclosed, Torque describes the ease of expanding production as adding additional arrays “in Lego-like fashion.”

“Torque’s Slipstream process is modular and readily scalable,” we were told. The platform is designed to operate in both large-scale and decentralized manufacturing settings, the firm said, with the potential to move cell manufacturing closer to the point of care.

It is also a fully-closed and semi-automated system, the firm claims, which addresses some of the issues in cell therapy production including human interference and high cost of goods.

“The system is definitely fully closed,” the spokesperson said. “The system has been in place and manufacturing Deep-Primed T Cells at UC Davis for clinical trials of Torque’s first Deep-Primed Therapeutic product candidate that targets both solid and hematologic tumors.”

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