Dr. Dolores Baksh, Innovation Leader for Cytiva’s Cell Therapy Technologies business, was the cell-ebrity presenter on a recent “Lab Invaders” episode, live on Facebook. With a Masters and PhD in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Dolores was the perfect scientist to answer live questions about immunotherapy manufacturing.
What is cell therapy?
Cell therapy is a type of personalized medicine, where immune cells, specifically T-cells, are removed from an individual and reprogrammed to target and kill cancer cells on reinfusion. The central challenge for immunotherapy is figuring out how to safely scale up the manufacture of this individualized treatment for millions of people with different types of cancer.
How do Cytiva’s range of devices help to solve these manufacturing challenges?
For the first time, we have a nearly complete set of tools that provide a standardized, scalable, and automated solution for cell therapy manufacture. Bringing together these new technologies has been central to our goal of helping to moving the industry closer to, and ultimately enabling the treatment of hundreds of thousands of patients instead of just a few. Also, these devices are closed systems that reduce the risk of contamination, increasing the safety of the process.
How long does a T-cell therapy take to manufacture from start to finish using Cytiva systems?
It depends on the specific process and technological solution but we aim to get the cells back to the patient as quickly as possible for treatment to begin. From beginning to end, it usually takes 6–10 days.
Who uses the types of standardized, scalable cell therapy solutions that Cytiva provides?
Once the science is approved, biotech companies, therapy producers, and even contract manufacturing organizations will use the machinery to scale their cell therapy production. We are preparing these solutions in readiness for industrialization. It’s cutting edge science so there are still many challenges for us to tackle, but across our global research centers we are constantly learning and adapting to new information.
What motivates you to work in cell therapy?
Cell therapy could become one of the strongest weapons for fighting some of today’s most critical diseases and so improve the lives of countless people around the world. That is what cell therapy is all about. It's a rapidly growing field and the first T-cell therapy has been approved in 2017 - a tremendous milestone and an exciting time for the industry.