Cryoport, in pursuit of smoother cell therapy logistics, opens new facility
- Cold chain specialist Cryoport opened its latest logistics center Tuesday, which the company believes will help meet increasing demand from the cell and regenerative therapy market.
- The Livingston, New Jersey center is close to major cell therapy players like Novartis and Celgene — pharmas that are also Cryoport clients. CEO Jerry Shelton told BioPharma Dive that, in deciding to create the facility, Novartis "tipped the scale" because it manufactures the CAR-T treatment Kymriah at a plant in Morris Plains, a borough located about three miles away.
- The new center employs six people — one logistics manager and five technicians — but Shelton said the headcount could grow to about 20 over time. Cryoport invested roughly $3 million into the facility, which now joins the company's network of logistics centers located in Irvine, California, Charles City, Iowa, Amsterdam and Singapore.
Medical supply chains can be some of the most tricky to navigate. That's especially true for cellular therapies, which present challenging temperature and chain of identity requirements.
"The least temperature change can kill a cell, and if you kill a cell you can't deliver efficacy in these new cellular therapies," Shelton told BioPharma Dive.
Drugmakers, however, are flocking toward cell- and gene-centric medicines despite their complexities. KNect365, a division of market intelligence firm Informa, recently surveyed industry, academia, contract development and manufacturing organizations, service providers and regulators. Of the 165 respondents, more than 60% said CAR-T cell therapies were a main pipeline focus.
The growing interest has brought a boon to the bottom lines of some services and logistics providers. Cryoport, for instance, saw revenue growth of 59% year over year in the second quarter, attributed to clinical support programs as well as commercial agreements with the two biggest CAR-T developers, Novartis and Gilead Sciences.
Yet the interest has also put pressure on these companies to build out capacity.
Cryoport's Global Logistics Center occupies about 7,500 square feet, according to Shelton. While freestanding, the center will be integrated into the company's now five-site logistics network.
Global reach will become more important as CAR-T and related fields see more medicines gain approval. Regulators in the U.S. and Europe have already OK'd Novartis' Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) and Gilead's Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel). Novartis also recently inked a deal with Cellular Biosciences Group to have the biotech use its production facilities in China to make Kymriah there.
- BioPharma Dive CAR-T ups challenges in pharma supply chain
- BioPharma Dive Cell therapy emergence opens up new markets for shippers, logistic companies
Follow Jacob Bell on Twitter