January 21, 2020
MD Anderson accelerates cellular therapy programs by buying state-of-art manufacturing facility
BY Clayton R. Boldt, Ph.D.
Cellular therapies have emerged as an effective new therapy for patients with certain types of cancer, and MD Anderson has played an important role in advancing these novel treatments to the clinic. With recent agreements, MD Anderson has expanded its manufacturing and research capacity for cell therapies to bring new treatment options to more patients.
This month, MD Anderson finalized an asset purchase agreement with Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to acquire its 60,000 sq. ft. cellular therapy manufacturing facility in the Texas Medical Center for $15 million. MD Anderson will operate this facility for its own internal programs and strategic partners.
Agreement offers new promise for cellular therapies
This manufacturing facility provides industrial capacity and expertise to accelerate MD Anderson’s cellular therapy efforts toward meaningful clinical advances, explains Jason Bock, Ph.D., vice president of Therapeutics Discovery and head of Biologics Product Development.
“We are excited to leverage this state-of-the-art development and GMP manufacturing facility to dramatically accelerate
MD Anderson’s cell therapy programs,” says Bock.
The Therapeutics Discovery division is a unique drug discovery and development engine within MD Anderson, created to advance the next generation of impactful cancer medicines. This team of more than 100 researchers, clinicians and drug-development experts work with unmatched clinical insight to develop new therapies, including small molecules, biologics and cellular therapies, to answer unmet medical needs in oncology.
January is National Biotechnology Month, which recognizes the potential of biotechnology innovations to improve the lives of Americans. MD Anderson’s commitment to research, innovation and drug discovery is aligned with this goal and our mission to end cancer.
The Therapeutics Discovery team also works closely with
MD Anderson’s adoptive cell therapy (ACT) platform, which is working to create a variety of novel cellular therapy approaches for treating cancer. The ACT and Therapeutics Discovery platforms are part of the institution’s Moon Shots Program®, a collaborative effort to accelerate the development of scientific discoveries into clinical advances that save patients’ lives.
Bringing cutting-edge natural killer cell and T cell therapies to the clinic
With the support of the Moon Shots Program and ACT platform, Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, developed MD Anderson’s chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified natural killer (NK) cell therapy platform.
In November 2019, MD Anderson announced an exclusive license agreement and research agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company to develop four CAR NK therapies. With continued support from the ACT platform and Therapeutics Discovery teams, MD Anderson will work with Takeda to bring the lead CAR NK therapy into pivotal clinical trials in 2021.
The ACT platform also is working to advance endogenous T-cell therapy, pioneered by platform co-leader Cassian Yee, M.D., professor of Melanoma Medical Oncology. This work has initiated several early-phase clinical trials as well as the launch of Immatics US, Inc., which is focused on developing a variety of T-cell therapies.
Additionally, Sattva Neelapu, M.D., and Michael Wang, M.D., both professors of Lymphoma & Myeloma, lead pivotal trials investigating the use of CD19 CAR T cells for treating large B cell lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma, respectively, demonstrating the clinical expertise in novel cell therapies within MD Anderson.
“By synergizing the cell therapy research platforms and depth of clinical development experience with our newly acquired industrial capabilities, MD Anderson has created an unrivaled end-to-end engine to bring the most cutting-edge therapeutics from the lab to patients who need them,” says Bock.
Refer a patient to MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
MD Anderson has created an unrivaled end-to-end engine to bring the most cutting-edge therapeutics from the lab to patients who need them
Jason Bock, Ph.D.
Vice President, Therapeutics Discovery