Lonza’s Cocoon Platform Brings Automated Cell-Therapy Manufacturing to the Clinic

A collaboration between Swiss-based Lonza and Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, the largest hospital in Israel and the Middle East region, is expected to result in a novel, point-of-care, cell-therapy manufacturing technology.

The partnership, using Lonza’s state-of-the-art CocoonTM manufacturing platform, will enable Sheba to vastly streamline its in-house cell manufacturing process and produce genetically engineered human chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CAR T-cells) for applications in treating critically ill cancer patients.

CAR T-cell therapy.

CAR T-cell therapy is a type of treatment in which a patient’s T cells (a type of immune cell) are changed in the laboratory so they will bind to cancer cells and kill them. Blood from a vein in the patient’s arm flows through a tube to an apheresis machine, which removes the white blood cells, including T-cells, and sends the rest of the blood back to the patient.

Following this step, the gene for a special receptor called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) is inserted into the T-cells in the laboratory. Then millions of the CAR T-cells are grown in the laboratory and given to the patient by infusion. These infused CAR T-cells are able to bind to an antigen on the cancer cells and kill them.

This collaborative agreement brings together a leading academic clinical center and an established development and manufacturing partner with the goal of delivering potentially curative therapies to a greater number of patients with advanced hematological malignancies.

Sheba Medical Center has a proven track record of treating oncology patients using novel immunotherapy treatments such as CAR-T while Lonza will leverage its expertise in autologous cell-therapy process development to transfer Sheba’s current open, manual protocols into Lonza’s closed, automated Cocoon platform.

“With the collaborative potential of this venture, we look forward to jointly leading the next personalized cell-therapy revolution. Lonza’s Cocoon platform provides us the ability to manufacture cell therapies faster and closer to the point-of-care and in a scalable manner at lower cost so that we can treat more oncology patients who turn to us as a last resort,” noted Professor Dror Harats, MD, Deputy Director for Research and Development and Director for Clinical Trials at Sheba Medical Center.

“This collaboration with Sheba Medical Center, a proven leader in point-of-care manufacturing and treatment of patients with novel immunotherapies, is a key part of the development program for the CocoonTM platform,” said Eytan Abraham, Head of Personalized Medicine, Lonza Pharma Biotech & Nutrition.

“We aim to confirm the benefits of using our closed, automated GMP-in-a-box concept to more efficiently manufacture personalized cell therapies right where the patients are, enabling treatment of a larger patient population,” Abraham added.


Last Editorial Review: March 18, 2019

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