WuXi ATU wins tech disruptor at #ATW awards in Miami

A transfection-free and scalable AAV technology has bagged WuXi ATU the Manufacturing Tech Disruptor of the Year Award at the first Advanced Therapies Awards ceremony.

Miami, Florida’s famous Fontainebleau Hotel hosted the integral Advanced Therapies Week (ATW) Awards event last week, honoring progress and success in cell and gene therapies.

Highlights of the evening including the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Carl June – the cell therapy pioneer and Time Magazine ‘Person of the Year’ runner-up 2016, who developed the first commercial CAR-T therapy tisagenlecleucel (commercialized by Novartis under the brand Kymriah).

WuXi ATU CEO David Chang (left) and team

However, the Manufacturing Tech Disruptor category saw contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) WuXi Advanced Therapies (ATU) take home the top spot for its Tetracycline-Enabled Self-Silencing Adenovirus (TESSA) technology.

David Chang, WuXi ATU CEO, said he was “honored” to receive the accolade. He told BioProcess Insider at the ceremony the TESSA platform is “revolutionizing” gene therapy manufacturing, helping industry overcome “the current standard manufacturing bottlenecks: scalability issue, low titer issue, and quality issues” of adeno-associated virus (AAV) production.

Developed by WuXi AppTec acquisition Oxgene, TESSA launched last March. According to data published in Nature Communications, TESSA vectors can produce 10 times more AAV than plasmid-based manufacture.

“We really right now are trying to make sure this technology is being adopted by the industry,” Chang told us. “New technology takes a long time to get adopted by the industry, so our intention is to get the customer to experience [the tech] as soon as possible. We believe once a customer has that experience, they will start abandoning the standard transient-based AAV transfection.”

A total of 37 entries to the category demonstrated the importance of manufacturing in the advanced therapy space, one of the judges told this publication.

“Manufacturing is the key element of success,” said Miguel Forte, president-elect of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (ISCT). “70% of the discussions with the FDA relate to manufacturing, so it’s important to have a company that is willing to understand the needs and collaborate and bring the product towards the market with rigor, innovation, flexibility, and client attention.”

Regarding WuXi ATU’s win, he highlighted standout elements including the company’s ability to innovate and to understand customers’ needs, which help improve “the way you manufacture [a therapy], the way you control it, the way you characterize it, the way you scale it up, and the way you’re able to get it ready for the patient to use.”

The other nominees in the category were Cellares, Exactmer, Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology, Invetech, Luminary Therapeutics, MasterControl, National Resilience, Oxford Biomedica, and Stoic Bio.

Full list of winners

Lifetime Achievement Award: Carl June, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania

Young Scientist Award: Luca Sereni, Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Center, Harvard Medical School

The Patient Advocacy Award (Corporate Organizations): Adaptimmune

The Patient Advocacy Award (Not-for-Profit Organizations): Cleveland Cord Blood Center

Manufacturing Tech Disruptor of the Year: WuXi Advanced Therapies

Sustainability Initiative of the Year: Title21 Health Solutions

DE&I Initiative of the Year: Center for Breakthrough Medicine

Biotech Innovation Award: Iovance Biotherapeutics

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