- Companies involved in CAR-T, including Kite Pharma, Adaptimmune Therapeutics, and Cellectis, have been grappling with how to reduce production time lines and costs. Many have been building new facilities or outsourcing production of test batches for clinical trials to manufacturing specialists.
- For example, Kite Pharma has successfully cut the production time of developing re-engineered T-cells for cancer treatment (also known as CAR-T) from 12 to 6 days.
- Competition has increased among companies seeking to bring re-engineered T cells to market for cancer treatments. The CAR-T process involves extracting T cells from white blood cells, genetically modifying them, multiplying them in a bioreactor and re-injecting them into patients.
While the concept of re-engineering T cells to turn them into cancer killers is relatively simple, the process is arduously complex. Arie Belldegrun, CEO of Adaptimmune, has spoken on this complexity argued for the need to educate third parties about how to perform the process correctly. For Adaptimmune, the goal is to lower production costs down to the $40,000 range, while modeling a price-per-patient of $150,000. Towards that end, Adaptimmune is building a new, dedicated facility in its home state of California.
Meanwhile, Cellectis has pursued a different approach by developing off-the-shelf treatments from donor cells—an approach which they claim will bring production costs down to roughly $5,000. On Thursday, Pfizer and French firm Servier announced that they had snapped up the rights to Cellectis' therapy, which gained major attention after a baby girl with leukemia treated with it seemed to be clear of her cancer two months after treatment.
Although the production capacity problems are vexing, firms' interest in large scale manufacturing demonstrates the maturation of the science behind CAR-T.