Upstream Contract Services

2012 in Review

As children growing up, we could barely contain our anticipation for those banner, milestone years: entering first grade, becoming a teenager, turning 16 and then 18, high-school graduation. But even the most innocuous “in-between” years saw notable change and maturation, and 2012 was just such a year for the growing cell therapy sector. Although it is not likely to be noted as a pivotal or breakthrough year, 2012 nonetheless delivered some significant and welcome signposts of continued sector maturation. Here…

Single-Use Technologies in Cell Therapy

Single-use technologies (SUTs) are tools that can be used in producing cell therapies and personalized medicines. Such products must meet specific requirements because of the way they are used. To meet those criteria, the cell therapy industry simply has no alternatives to single-use systems. SUT applications are rapidly changing. Traditional uses for single-use systems in cell therapy include processing in clinical settings (e.g., blood bags, transfer sets) and research and development (e.g., T-flasks, pipettes). Although such applications continue, the commercialization…

Automation of Cell Therapy Biomanufacturing

Biomanufacturing automation is an established mission-critical step in the commercialization pathway for conventional therapeutics, including small molecules and monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) (1). The prospect of a potential biologic progressing into late-stage clinical trials without a robust biomanufacturing strategy to support at least pilot-plant scale bioprocessing is simply unthinkable. Conversely, the cell therapy industry (or at least a significant proportion of it) regard this as a trend that is unlikely to be mirrored as the industry develops. The aim of this…

Characterization of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are a self-renewing population of adherent, multipotent progenitor cells that can differentiate into several lineages. The current definition of MSCs includes adherence to standard tissue culture plastic ware, expression of various surface antigens, and multilineage in vitro differentiation potential (osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic). hMSCs hold great promise as therapeutic agents because of their potential ability to replace damaged tissue and their immunomodulatory properties. Consequently, many clinical trials using hMSCs are currently under way in a…

A Statistical Approach to Expanding Production Capacity

Contract manufacturer DSM Biologics — at its current good manufacturing practices (CGMP) facility in Groningen, The Netherlands — provides services for clinical development and commercial production based on mammalian cell culture technology (Photo 1). During the 2011–2012 year, the facility went through a major expansion project to enlarge its capacity and fulfill a growing customer demand. From a business point of view, the project had a well-defined target for future production capacity as well as investment volume. Photo 1: Photo…

Advocating an Evolution

In a 2006 report, the US Department of Health and Human Services hailed regenerative medicine as “the vanguard of 21st century healthcare” and “the first truly interdisciplinary field that utilizes and brings together nearly every field in science” (1). To fuel support for regulatory, legislative, and reimbursement initiatives in this new therapeutic class, a small group of scientists, life science business executives, patient advocates, and other experts formed the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM, http://alliancerm.org). Starting with 17 charter members,…