Emerging Therapeutics

Bioengineering for “Benchtop Clinical Trials”

Animal studies can be poor predictors of human drug response. Species-specificity of organs is a concern especially for the heart. Many drugs that enter clinical trials will fail ultimately because of unexpected cardiotoxicity. Drug developers would love to mitigate such risks through in vitro human cardiac testing, but human heart biopsy materials and donor organs do not survive well in a laboratory setting. Breakthroughs with human stem cells offer an alternative. It is now possible to take a simple skin…

Challenges and Opportunities in CAR T-Cell Development and Manufacturing

Just about anyone in the biopharmaceutical industry will tell you that cost is now the primary concern in cell and gene therapy development. It hasn’t even been a decade since “manufacturability” was the main issue at hand — and cost has risen organically from related discussions. Regenerative medicine evolved from medical research rather than from drug-development companies, and technologies that worked in clinical settings haven’t translated directly to manufacturing facilities. Cost is often the problem. Early product successes (that ultimately…

Do We Need Separate Regulations for Advanced Therapies?

Before we had the 21 CFR 1271 regulation for tissue therapies, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had determined that regenerative medicine was exceptional enough to warrant its own regulations for good manufacturing practice (GMP). Since 2001, the tissue industry has adapted to those new rules while the FDA stepped up enforcement over time. When a cell or tissue product is regulated under 21 CFR 1271, its specific regulations apply before the general regulations for biologics and drugs. But…

CAR-T at the Crossroads: Is Allogeneic the Way to Go?

As cell therapies move through the clinic toward commercialization, respondents to an Informa Connect industry survey are beginning to look to allogeneic — or off-the-shelf — products as “the next big thing.” Almost 200 people contributed to the Cell Therapy Analytics Report, revealing their current positions within the burgeoning cell and gene therapy space and offering their thoughts and predictions for the future. Most survey respondents work within companies developing oncology products. Of those, the largest group (41%) said that…

eBook: Viral Vectors for Vaccines — A Virtual Conversation on Production and Analysis

Although today’s vaccines are safer, more effective, and more accessible than they were even 20 years ago, the emergence of new, complex pathogens has exposed limitations in traditional vaccine strategies. Viral vector vaccines (VVVs) hold great promise for confronting those now-intractable pathogens. Combining the best features of live-attenuated and DNA-vaccine approaches, these next-generation prophylactics seek to harness the infectivity of non- or low-immunogenicity viruses to shuttle antigen-encoding DNA from target pathogens into host cells. The resulting transduced cells then initiate…

Capacity Analysis for Viral Vector Manufacturing: Is There Enough?

Advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) are engineered to replace defective, disease-causing genes to compensate directly for a genetic defect or to encode a therapeutic protein construct (e.g., chimeric antigen receptor, CAR) for disease treatment. In most instances, a viral vector delivers the engineered genetic payload, targeting cells in situ or ex vivo through cellular modification, expansion, and infusion into a patient. Clinical successes of ATMPs bolstered by regulatory approval of products such as Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl, Spark Therapeutics), Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel,…

Analytical Testing Strategies for CAR T-Cell Products

Assay lifecycle development for traditional biopharmaceuticals such as vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) has a clearly defined pathway, from preclinical method selection, development, and optimization through the milestones in preclinical phase trials, and finally to postlicensure method evaluations, comparability, and improvements. The analytical development roadmap for nontraditional biologics such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies and gene therapies are not as clearly defined and can present many challenges along the way. Understanding the “what, how, and when” of analytical…

AAV Vector Manufacturing Platform Selection and Product Development

Adenoassociated virus (AAV) vectors have emerged as the prominent delivery mechanisms of corrective gene therapies. Three such products — Glybera (alipogene tiparvovec, uniQure), Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl, Spark Therapeutics), and Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec-xioi, AveXis) — have been licensed, and a growing number of candidates are entering late-stage development. In mapping out an AAV gene therapy product development strategy, biomanufacturers should address fundamental considerations for their manufacturing strategies for both phase 1–2 clinical evaluation and translation for commercial market supply. A manufacturing…

Bioprinting Capabilities and Futures

Bioprinting has advanced rapidly through engineering step changes in the use of three-dimensional (3D) printing. With these developments, living cells can be positioned layer by layer to produce functional tissue structures. Key attributes of this emerging technology are its high scalability and modularity, which enable automated and repeatable manufacture of a wide variety of tissues. These high-throughput biofabrication capabilities equip companies with tools to develop 3D-printed tissues for broad applications, from in vitro drug testing models to therapeutic tissue implants,…

Emerging Treatments for Spinal Cord Damage

Injuries to the spinal cord can cause permanent paralysis and even lead to death, with little or no hope for patients to regain lost function after such trauma has occurred. News of my spinal cord research first came to prominence in the 1980s with a front-page story that chronicles a presentation at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting (1). That reported the first time that crushed peripheral nerves had been regenerated back into a patient’s spinal cord. Regeneration of spinal…