CGT industry needs skilled staff to fuel further growth says McKinsey

Cell and gene therapy developers need staff with skills according to McKinsey & Company, which says making such therapies is laborious, complex, and expensive and few firms are ready to take on these challenges.

The management consulting group wrote about the burgeoning cell and gene therapy industry in a blog post this month, writing that as more cell and gene therapies come to market industry will need to invest in skills.

“Five years ago, these treatments were really just ideas being tested in very small clinical trials,” said McKinsey partner Katie Kelleher.

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“Now they are the fastest-growing area in therapeutics, and the industry is beginning to commercialize them. But they are very laborious, complex, and expensive to produce, and many businesses aren’t ready to do this.”

With this in mind McKinsey has partnered to set up a digital capability center in partnership with the New Jersey Innovation Institute to provide training for the next generation of cell and gene therapy industry staff.

The center – which is operated by full service contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) BioCentriq – was formally established last summer. Its focus is digital enablement across CGT-related operations – economies of scale and productivity, quality excellence, and supply-chain efficiencies and resilience.

As McKinsey partner Andrea Gennari, who founded the center with Kelleher, puts it the aim is to help industry build skills.

“As life-sciences companies everywhere are under pressure to hire talent and grow quickly, while improving quality and reliability. We can help them upskill people in operational excellence and transform their use of technology to enable new performance highs.”

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Training at the center – one of 12 McKinsey operates globally – is designed to be cutting edge. For example, virtual reality technologies are used to teach staff new procedures without requiring the actual equipment or supervisors, who can focus on production.

In particular, it provides training on autologous CAR-T manufacturing processes according to McKinsey solution manager, Emily Simon.

“It’s a complicated, weeks-long process requiring highly skilled technicians. For example, the cells have to be frozen in liquid nitrogen during transportation to ensure stasis.”

She added that demos in the lab show how digital technologies can improve effectiveness at different points of the process. One use case focuses on how to optimize yield through advanced analytics, which can increase output through more productive cell growth or greater cell viability in the lab.