Technology developed to rapidly scale up cell and gene therapy manufacture

Image: ThisisEngineering RAEng

CPI, MicrofluidX and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) have collaborated in a project to develop bioprocessing technology for the rapid scale-up of cell and gene therapies.

The technology has the potential to overcome a major bottleneck in the development of these novel treatments, and reduce the time and costs associated with bringing such therapies to market.

Significant advances have been made in recent years in the use of cell and gene therapies in disease areas with unmet clinical needs. However, reliable methods are still required to scale up the manufacture of these complex technologies to commercial levels. Cell and gene therapies are produced from inherently variable living cells. As such, it is highly challenging to achieve consistent performance at different scales, which can lead to prolonged development times. In turn, this can significantly raise the cost of these therapies upon entry to the market.

The microfluidic cell culture technology being developed by MicrofluidX will provide manufacturers of cell and gene therapies with fine process control throughout development, ensuring consistent quality. The technology can be used to optimise cell characteristics and growth conditions early in development, before rapidly transitioning to large-scale manufacturing without the need to invest time in redesigning processes. Crucially, using microfluidics greatly reduces the consumption of expensive reagents, cutting down overall development costs. MicrofluidX recently closed an initial funding round raising £1.4 million for its microfluidic platform. The company is now working with CPI and CGT Catapult to secure further funding and validate its prototypes.

CPI is an independent technology innovation centre and founding member of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult. CPI’s state-of-the-art facilities provide expertise and advanced equipment for developing GMP-compliant bioprocessing technology. In addition, CPI has drawn from its extensive experience in securing public funding to help MicrofluidX secure £500k of grant funding from Innovate UK for development of the microfluidic bioprocessing platform.

CGT Catapult has more than 230 experts in the industrialisation, manufacturing and clinical adoption of cell and gene therapies, and support industry and academic partners to develop and commercialise these transformative medicines. In this collaboration, the organisation will support MicrofluidX to implement, test and optimise the microfluidics platform, utilising the technology and expertise at the CGT Catapult development centre laboratories in London.

Dr Antoine Espinet, Founder and CEO, MicrofluidX, said: “We are excited to be working with CPI and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult on the development of our innovative microfluidics platform. Our technology will cut the time and costs required to bring cell and gene therapies to market, improving access to these novel treatments.”

Lucy Foley, Director of Biologics, CPI, said: “We look forward to working with MicrofluidX, following our successful grant application. This technology could play an important role in the future development of cell and gene therapies, and our expertise in the manufacturing of biologics will help to ensure that the technology is market-ready as quickly as possible.”

Matthew Durdy, CEO, CGT Catapult, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting the development of this microfluidic bioprocessing platform, technology which shows significant promise for scaling up cell and gene therapy manufacture. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult is looking forward to working with MicrofluidX and CPI, innovating together to overcome barriers in the UK industry.”

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