Therapeutic Class

Vertex to tighten grip on diabetes islet cell space with $320m ViaCyte buy

Vertex will bolster its inhouse manufacturing capabilities while adding three cell therapy approaches to type 1 diabetes through the acquisition of ViaCyte. In 2019, Vertex Pharmaceuticals entered the diabetes cell therapy space through the $950 million acquisition of Semma Therapeutics. The deal brought Vertex a stem cell-derived islet platform and VX-880, an allogeneic candidate for type 1 diabetes (T1D), entering the firm into the relatively small islet cell space. Now the firm plans to remove its main competition, ViaCyte, through…

Avid opens viral vector facility, looks to FY23 to fill GMP capacity

Avid Bioservices has completed the first phase of its journey into cell and gene therapies, opening analytical and process development capabilities in California. In October 2021, biologics contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Avid announced plans to move into the cell and gene therapy space through the construction of a 53,000 square-foot viral vector development and GMP manufacturing facility at a cost of between $65 and $75 million. After eight months and with help from engineering and construction firm CRB,…

Astellas turns to next-gen ADCs with $90m Sutro partnership

Astellas will codevelop immunostimulatory antibody-drug conjugates (iADCs) for three biological targets through a partnership with Sutro Biopharma. Japanese biopharma firm Astellas will pay Californian biotech Sutro $90 million but could pay a further $422.5 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones for each of the three undisclosed oncology candidates. While antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) have established themselves on the commercial front, with 12 approved in the US, Sutro says its engineered iADCs are a potential groundbreaking modality in the treatment of…

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…

BioMarin’s EU nod another lift for budding gene therapy sector

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) endorsement of BioMarin’s hemophilia A gene therapy comes days after the US recommended two bluebird bio gene therapy products. The Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopted a positive opinion for Roctavian (valoctocogene roxaparvovec), laying the ground for the approval of the first gene therapy for the treatment of hemophilia A. Roctavian is based on an adeno-associated virus (AAV) containing the gene for factor VIII, which, once administered as a one-off therapy,…

Galapagos makes ‘surprising’ cell therapy pivot via CellPoint and AboundBio buy

Small molecule biotech Galapagos has jumped into the cell therapy space through the acquisitions of Cellpoint and AboundBio for €125 ($130) million and $14 million, respectively. The deals move Galapagos into the advanced therapy space, through the addition of Cellpoint’s chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy pipeline and decentralized manufacturing technology. Dutch biotech CellPoint’s point-of-care supply model, which leverages with Lonza’s closed, automated Cocoon platform, claims to offer 7-day delivery of CAR-T therapies while avoiding logistical complexities associated with the…

Multisite manufacturing may not be ideal for cell therapy trials, study says

Cell therapy developers must think carefully before adopting a decentralized manufacturing model say researchers, who suggest the benefits of bedside production are outweighed by technical challenges. The advice, presented in a study in the Journal of Translational Medicine, is based on an assessment of current cell therapy production models which found that the decentralized, multi-production site approach is gaining in popularity, particularly in trials. “For cellular therapy clinical trials involving multiple sites some people are advocating a decentralized model of…

FDA AdCom endorses bluebird’s CALD gene therapy

An FDA Advisory Committee has unanimously agreed bluebird bio’s gene therapy elivaldogene autotemcel (eli-cel) outweigh the risks in treating early active cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CALD). The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee (CTGTAC) met yesterday to evaluate bluebird bio’s eli-cel as a treatment of early active cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CALD) in patients less than 18 years of age who do not have an available and willing human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched sibling hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)…

Gilead: CAR-T still in infancy but the future is both auto and allo

Investment and innovation will continue to pour into autologous CAR-T therapies even as allogeneic products begin to impact the market, according to Gilead Sciences. Gilead Sciences is a pioneer in the cell therapy space, acquiring Kite Pharma in 2017 months ahead of the FDA approving Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), the second CAR-T therapy to achieve commercial success. Gilead won approval for a second autologous CAR-T, Tecartus (brexucabtagene autoleucel), in July 2020. Talking at the Bernstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference last week,…

GreenLight for mRNA as Samsung Biologics makes first batch

Samsung Biologics has produced the first batch of drug substance for GreenLight Biosciences from its newly built mRNA facility in Korea. In June 2021, Korean contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Samsung Biologics announced its intentions to enter the messenger RNA (mRNA) space through the building of a vaccine drug substance production facility at its biomanufacturing campus in Songdo, Incheon. Five months later, and the firm won a contract to make Boston-based biotech firm GreenLight’s messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate…