Partnerships abet vendors in tackling cell & gene logistics and automation

With Thermo Fisher teaming with automated tech company Scinogy and GE Healthcare collaborating with logistics firm World Courier, both vendors have increased their advanced therapy services.

The recent approval of Novartis’ one-off gene therapy Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec) has cemented the advent of advanced therapies. With hundreds more cell and gene therapies in development, the US FDA has predicted that up to 20 such products will be approved each year by 2025.

Vendors, therefore, have been increasing their commercial services technologies and offerings to support this burgeoning industry and within the past week both Thermo Fisher and GE Healthcare have struck collaborations in the space.

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Automation: Thermo Fisher and Scinogy

Thermo Fisher will work with Scinogy, a firm focused on manufacturing systems for cell therapies. The collaboration gives the bioprocess vendor access to Scinogy’s closed, modular, automated systems which it hopes will offer industry scalable, cost-effective cell and gene therapy development and manufacturing.

“The cell therapy industry is expanding steadily, and Thermo Fisher Scientific is committed to empowering developers to accelerate the time between R&D to full-scale manufacturing and commercialization,” said Amy Butler, general manager of cell biology at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Financial terms of the deal have not been divulged, but an initial collaboration has resulted in Thermo Fisher presenting the Gibco CTS Rotea Counterflow Centrifugation System at the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) meeting in Melbourne from last week

According to the firm, the tech is “a highly reproducible, closed cell processing system” suitable for autologous and small-scale allogeneic cell therapy separation, washing and concentration.

The lack of automated processes in cell and gene therapies has created a hurdle in bringing such products out of the clinic and into the market, and both developers and vendors have signaled their intentions to invest in automated technologies.

In fact, Thermo Fisher acquired Finesse Solutions in 2017 adding scalable control automation systems and software to its service offering. Meanwhile, other vendors have invested in the space. GE Healthcare, for example, added automation-supporting software firm Zenith Technologies in 2017, and earlier this year teamed up with automation and IT firm Rockwell Automation.

Logistics: GE and World Courier

Another hurdle industry is looking to overcome in the cell and gene therapy space focus around the supply chain.

The need for an on-time and temperature-controlled supply chain is crucial, especially for autologous products that must go back and forth between an administrative center and the manufacturing site.

As such, GE Healthcare has teamed with AmerisourceBergen subsidiary World Courier, bringing together its FlexFactory manufacturing platform with a proven logistics partner in what it says will create a “seamless end-to-end supply chain.”

“By working with World Courier and leveraging their robust logistics platform and global infrastructure, we are providing a solution that will spur commercialization and access to next generation therapeutics,” said Catarina Flyborg, general manager of Cell and Gene Therapy at GE Healthcare.

Further details of the deal were not provided when this publication contacted GE Healthcare.

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