Summer 2018
Drug Discovery World
Preserving Cell Integrity and Viability To Drive The Discovery of Cell Therapies
Mary Kay Bates
Summer 2018

Cell therapies are poised to play a pivotal role in the development of precision and personalised medicines that will transform healthcare for millions of patients worldwide.

Involving the direct use of whole cells or cellular material in patients, cell therapy is an umbrella term for many subdivisions of biological research, encompassing fields such as stem cell therapy, gene therapy and immunotherapy. These powerful techniques are deeply reliant on highpurity environments for culturing cells. As such, preserving the integrity of sensitive samples is a daily challenge for cell culture laboratories in their search for innovative new therapies.

The cells used in transplantation can either be derived from an individual patient (autologous cell therapy) or from another donor (allogeneic cell therapy). Allogeneic methods are more akin to the pharmaceutical model of drug manufacturing as products can be produced on a larger scale and can be prepared for ‘off the shelf’ distribution, provided the recipients have an immunological profile matching the cells or cell products. For research purposes, autologous cell therapies are often favoured because they do not require immunological matching and are personalised to the patient...

One area in which autologous therapies have shown particular potential is in the treatment of cancer. Recent advances in immuno-oncology research, for example, have resulted in a paradigm shift for treatment of some cancers. Immuno-oncology approaches have been found to be more effective at long-lasting tumour regression than alternatives such as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Immuno-oncology therapies typically use genetically modified T-cells to combat and kill cancerous tissue by identifying the cancer cells as a foreign body in need of attack. Tcell therapies based on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are widely employed for this purpose, as they have the capacity to proliferate within the patient after infusion and offer sustained functional immunity. This efficacy has been proven in a wide range of cancers and has shown encouraging clinical data from Phase I trials in solid tumours, such as neuroblastoma....

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