MD Anderson and Berkeley Lights launch Optera Therapeutics to accelerate development of cell therapies for cancer

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Berkeley Lights, Inc. today announced the launch of Optera Therapeutics Corp, a biopharmaceutical company developing cell therapies with scalable manufacturing solutions for cancer.

Cell-based immunotherapies where patients are treated with their own immune cells, such as chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T), T-cell receptors (TCR) engineered T cells, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and endogenous T cells (ETC), have demonstrated promise for treating cancer. Optera Therapeutics will develop cancer cell therapies discovered at MD Anderson and apply Berkeley Lights’ advanced cell therapy manufacturing systems with the goal of making these novel therapies accessible to all.

“MD Anderson is dedicated to improving the standard of care for our patients as we strive to realize our mission to end cancer,” said Patrick Hwu, M.D., division head of Cancer Medicine. “Our hope is that – by combining our cell therapy research expertise with advanced automation capabilities – we will enhance our ability to deliver these treatments to every patient who needs them.”

Optera Therapeutics is developing cell therapies under investigation at MD Anderson by leaders in the field of cellular immunology including Cassian Yee, M.D., professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology; Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., and Elizabeth Shpall, M.D., both professors of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy; Chantale Bernatchez, Ph.D., assistant professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology;  Sattva Neelapu, M.D., professor of Lymphoma and Myeloma; and Greg Lizee, Ph.D., associate professor,  of Melanoma Medical Oncology.

“Cell therapy is transforming the standard of care for cancer patients” said Yee. “Optera will capitalize on truly disruptive technology and allow us to extend our ability to treat more patients, for more cancers, in a shorter period of time.”

Eric Hobbs, chief executive officer of Berkeley Lights, Inc., added, “the Berkeley Lights team is privileged and excited to join forces with our colleagues at MD Anderson who have devoted their lives to defeating cancer. We are absolutely driven to make their life-saving cell therapies accessible to all.”