GSK partnering with Germany's Miltenyi Biotec on cell and gene therapy R&D

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is collaborating with Germany's Miltenyi Biotec on the "industrialization" of cell and gene therapy, as part of the Big Pharma's effort to harness the technique for the development of therapies to treat cancer and rare diseases.

Developing cell and gene therapies requires extracting cells from the body and genetically altering them in a desired manner. Then, the agents are reintroduced into the body, where they replace the undesirable genes or teach the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells, GSK says.

But the technique faces manufacturing and scale-up constraints that the partnership hopes to overcome.

In particular, the duo will focus on developing new CAR (chimeric antigen-receptor) T-cell based therapeutics, or cells that have engineered to strengthen a patient's own T-cell response to cancer.

"Cell-based gene therapies are living treatments, unique to individual patients and complex to manufacture. We see tremendous potential for the cell and gene therapy platform we are building within GSK, however the complexity of current manufacturing processes limits their use to local treatment of small patient populations. Working with Miltenyi Biotec, our vision is to transform current technology so that we can expand the possibilities for cell and gene therapy treatment to wider patient populations with broader geographical reach," Patrick Vallance, GSK's president of Pharmaceuticals R&D, said in a statement.

Services offered by Miltenyi include assistance with antigen delivery, cell and sample preparation and tools for research into arenas like tumor vascularization.

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