There is a palpable air of excitement and enthusiasm around the cell therapy industry and a sense that, as Christopher Bravery of Consulting on Advanced Biologicals, puts it: “cell therapy has taken off”.
There have been tremendous breakthroughs as the field has matured over the last 10 years, but we want to know what’s next: what exciting developments can we expect going forward, over the next 5 to 10 years? We put this to our panel of experts and these were their top 3 breakthrough areas:
1) Cures, not just treatments.
To date, most biopharmaceuticals offer treatment, not a cure. All that could be about to change: Jason Carstens, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is excited about the advancements made in the CAR T-cells field. He says it’s mind-boggling that we are actually talking about a cure for cancer. He continues, “if I had a crystal ball and was looking forward to some potential breakthroughs, I would say it’s in the area of regenerative medicine where we have the ability to repair spinal cord injury for example, cartilage injury, bone damage, cardiac damage and really have a great impact on the quality of life for people.”
2) Cell kits: the microchip of the healthcare industry
John Rowley, of RoosterBio, says the future of our biotechnology healthcare products are going to incorporate stem cell technologies. For this to happen, stem cells need to be provided, very similarly to microchips, in formats that enable product development. He explains, “technology revolutions happen when kits come on the market. They allow anybody to gain access to a technology – making it easy to use, simple, affordable, and robust. Something that works every time.” Looking to the future he sees, “a day of a true stem cell reagent where you’re able to take out 50 million, 100 million cells from the freezer, thaw it out and use it directly in an experiment. And where that’s really going to be huge is the tissue engineering world.”
3) Improvements in Manufacturing Technology
Aby Mathew of BioLife Solutions, believes that over the next 5 to 10 years we will see developments on both the clinical and manufacturing sides. On the clinical side he expects that more therapies will get approval and we’ll know they’re working at the patient level.
On the commercial side, he sees that “manufacturers of these therapies will be able to optimize their processes a little bit better and also be able to drive the cost down, in combination with relationships with suppliers, who can now generate these tools and supplies on a larger scale.”
He hopes that the lower costs will mean that these therapies can reach a much wider patient population, whether you are in a first world or third world country.
Over 50 speakers and 200+ industry pioneers will be discussing the future of cell therapy at the Cell Therapy Manufacturing & Gene Therapy Congress in Brussels on 2nd – 5th February 2016. Join the conversation at https://celltherapy.knnlab.com.