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Pharma Newsletters >> Eurofins BioPharma Services Newsletter 24 - October 2019 >> Development of cell and gene therapies

Helping the development of cell and gene therapies to enhance disease treatment

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Katherine Bergmann, Ph.D., Manager of Viral Safety & Viral Clearance, Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, KatherineBergmann@

The development of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs), such as gene and cell therapy products, has made significant progress in the treatment of many diseases, including cancer, genetic, and autoimmune disorders. Regulatory agencies have seen a large increase in the number of submissions over the last two years, and further increases are expected to continue for years to come. With the promise to enhance treatment, greatly reduce side effects, and potentially cure many types of diseases and disorders, these therapies are in high demand, and biopharma companies are in a race to the clinic. However, these technologies are very complex in nature and are vastly different from traditional biopharmaceutical products, especially when it comes to the use of these products for personalised medicine. The complexities span the development pipeline, creating challenges for manufacturing, testing requirements, regulatory approval, and commercialisation.

In gene therapies, a defective gene is replaced with a functional one using a transmission system called a vector. This may occur by injecting the vector into the patient, or cells may be removed from the patient, exposed to the vector, and then returned to the patient. In some cases a single therapy may be used for many patients with the same condition. In other cases, there may be a custom treatment for each patient (known as personalised medicine). Gene therapies provide the ability to treat genetic diseases such as hemophilia by a single gene therapy treatment, in contrast to repeated treatments needed with conventional therapies. In addition to enhanced treatments, other potential benefits include reduced side effects, and the potential to cure, rather than just treat, many types of diseases and disorders.

With cell therapies, human or animal cells are administered to “repair, replace, regenerate, or augment a recipient’s cells, tissue, or organs that are diseased, dysfunctional, or injured” (US Pharmacopeia <1046>). The cells may be used without alteration, or they may be engineered to add a specific function (e.g., using CRISPR or CAR-T technologies). Cell therapies may be used for disorders such as knee cartilage defects or organ failure, where cells can be implanted to the damaged tissue.

Eurofins BioPharma Product Testing supports the development of ATMPs both for traditional use as well as for use in personalised medicine. Eurofins provides comprehensive GMP-compliant testing support to ensure the identity, potency, purity, and safety of starting materials, cell and virus banks, intermediate products, vectors, and final drug products, as well as support for manufacturing process development and validation.

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