In the exciting world of Life Sciences, news comes thick and fast. Look back at the top stories that broke in the last three months
1. Going viral: How a new factory-in-a-box is helping scale up manufacturing of viral vector-based therapies to reach more patients
Although vaccines are critical to people around the world, they have previously been considered low-revenue products, causing a significant decline in the number of vaccine manufacturers. Making matters worse, most processes used to develop and manufacture vaccines were established decades ago. The traditional production technology doesn’t allow manufacturers to easily scale up production in times of need.
“Around the world there’s a shortage of manufacturing capacity for specific types of vaccines,” says Daria Donati, director of business development and innovation for the BioProcess business of GE Healthcare Life Sciences. “The investment needed to build these facilities has been high, and the lack of flexibility has hindered the capability to invest. We believe that bringing to the market a solution that mitigates some of the challenges in flexibility and timing can help the manufacture of vaccines.
Dr. Madhusudan Peshwa, PhD is Chief Technology Officer, Cell and Gene Therapy for GE Healthcare Life Sciences. Peshwa works with customers and partners to contribute to furthering the clinical development and commercial manufacturing of cell and gene-based drugs on a fully integrated scale. His goal is to provide end-to-end flexible technology solutions that enable companies to launch and deliver new therapies. In a blog, Peshwa shares the opportunities and promising advancements he sees coming to the industry, and why collaboration on scalable solutions will be the key to bringing them to reality.
In 2008, Dr. Ernie Garcia was a healthy 60-year-old who knew the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle. So when he experienced a chest pain episode, his cardiologist insisted he had nothing to worry about. But the symptoms persisted, spurring him to request a nuclear cardiology study, a non-invasive test done on a PET (Positron Emission Computed Tomography) scanner to assess blood flow, evaluate the pumping function of the heart, and visualize the size, location and extent of myocardial ischemia or a heart attack. “When I got off the machine, I just looked at the computer and from about 20 feet away, I knew exactly what was going on with me,” says Dr. Garcia. In that moment, Dr. Garcia became one of more than 4 million patients whose cardiac images are interpreted each year using the Emory Cardiac Toolbox™ (ECTb™).
In March 2019, Xiangxue Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (XPH) will be ready to manufacture TCR T Cell therapies in Guangzhou, China. Continuing the country’s rapidly growing leadership in the cell therapy industry, XPH announced it will install a FlexFactory™ for cell therapy, a semi-automated end-to-end manufacturing platform, to help scale up, digitize and accelerate manufacturing processes for their cell therapy clinical trials and future commercialization.
This project marks the first-ever application of FlexFactory for cell immunotherapy drugs based on high-affinity and high-specificity T Cell receptors (TCR). XPH aims to deliver a breakthrough for cancer treatment with a new-generation TCR T Cell therapy, and has become one of the industry-leading companies to roll out related research for this application.
Right now, scientists are working hard to find the next blockbuster drug. In laboratories across the world, millions of molecules are being screened against challenging drug targets. Those with potential will then be chemically optimised to improve their potency and selectivity and then assessed further in vitro and in vivo. How well does the molecule bind to the target receptor in the protein? Could they produce any off-target side-effects? How long will they remain within the body? Scientists need to answer all these questions – and more – before making the decision to advance their drug candidate into clinical trials. It is estimated that on average bringing a new drug onto the market takes ten to fifteen years and costs $2.6 Billion dollars. This is challenging and costly work