CEO, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult
Action needs to be taken on skills, investment and infrastructure if we are to sustain advances made in the UK cell and gene therapy sector.
The UK is an emerging powerhouse in cell and gene therapy for innovative healthcare solutions, yet there remain challenges in skills, infrastructure and investment within the sector.
In the last decade, cell and gene therapy (CGT) has developed from a handful of UK companies to more than 100, creating the largest CGT cluster outside the USA.
The country is “punching massively above its weight” in attracting and developing the global industry, says Matthew Durdy, CEO of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult).
These medicines are complex to manufacture, develop and derive data from, but when they work, they make an enormous difference to patients.
Building on research to address unmet need
Prominent examples of CGTs are in treatment of leukaemia with ex-vivo cell therapy, where patient cells are modified outside the body and then returned to attack disease; or haemophilia with in-vivo treatment, where the genetic modification tools are put into the body enabling cells in the liver to create Factor 8 or 9 to address the condition.
Durdy believes many more therapies will emerge to address unmet patient needs, but there is the need to support the science, invest and create infrastructure.
“These medicines are complex to manufacture, develop and derive data from, but when they work, they make an enormous difference to patients,” he says.
CGT Catapult was established to bridge the gap between scientific research and full-scale commercialisation to ensure these life-changing therapies can reach patients throughout the world.
The organisation works with partners in academia, industry and healthcare to develop new technologies and innovation.
“Our role in that is to create powerful collaborations that overcome challenges to the advancement of the sector.”
Overcoming barriers through collaborations
With its people, experience, physical assets, intellectual property and capabilities, CGT Catapult is central to collaborations.
The ability to manufacture sufficient quantities of viral vector for gene therapy has been a barrier to developing these medicines. CGT Catapult has collaborated with various organisations to create a platform to develop viral vectors quickly and cost effectively. They work with industry to develop national skills development programmes to address the industry’s skills gap; and are working with industry and the NHS to establish standards and training for clinical staff to accelerate clinical adoption.
The aim is to make the UK the natural home for organisations that want to develop, manufacture and supply these life changing therapeutics globally.