SCG and A*STAR to develop better stem cell manufacturing

Singapore’s SCG Cell Therapy and A*STAR, an official Singapore investor, will team up to build new joint laboratory research labs for cellular immunotherapies.

Richard Daverman

May 6, 2024

3 Min Read

The collaboration will raise close to $22 million to develop SCG’s induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, improving SCG’s cell therapy manufacturing as the company’s lead drug gets closer to approval.

SCG101is an autologous T-cell receptor (TCR) therapy for hepatitis B virus that causes hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer.

The joint labs build on an existing license, research collaboration and MOU between the two groups. In the agreement, the two sides said SCG will contribute its specialized, automated cell therapy manufacturing technologies, while A*STAR brings its unique monoclonal antibody assets, iPSC banks, and expertise in process scaling and analytics.

The two companies point out the need for new technologies, but acknowledge that turning laboratory innovations into practical clinical solutions poses significant challenges. There are apparent roadblocks in sectors that address developing manufacturing processes, validating analytical methods, and implementing automation and digitalization to guarantee the stability and scalability of products.

Induced pluripotent stem cells (also known as iPS cells or iPSCs) are a type of pluripotent stem cell that can be generated directly from adult cells. The iPSC technology was pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka's lab in Kyoto, Japan, which showed in 2006 that introducing four specific genes encoding transcription factors could convert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. He was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize along with Sir John Gurdon.

The collaboration bridges the expertise between public sector R&D and industry, consolidating resources from SCG Cell Therapy and A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) and the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) to advance innovative R&D towards GMP manufacturing.

“Cellular immunotherapies herald a new era of regenerative medicine, offering hope for patients with cancers and other serious illnesses. As a key player in T cell receptor (TCR) T cell therapeutics, SCG has developed in-house cGMP manufacturing capabilities to supply high-quality cell therapy products to patients. Through this first-of-its-kind joint collaboration with A*STAR, we bring together A*STAR's advanced iPSC technology and bioprocessing capabilities with our expertise in GMP cell therapy manufacturing and clinical development, furthering our mission to patients,” said Christy Ma, chief strategy officer of SCG Cell Therapy.

“The discovery of iPSCs has revolutionized regenerative medicine, offering the potential for standardized, off-the-shelf cell therapies. Through this collaboration with SCG Cell Therapy, we aim to accelerate the translation of iPSC research into clinically viable therapies and strengthen Singapore's position as a global leader in cell therapy innovation,” said Koh Boon Tong, executive director of A*STAR's BTI.

SCG develops novel immunotherapies for infections and its associated cancers, targeting the most common cancer-causing infections: helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus and hepatitis B. The company focuses on the development of novel immunotherapies in infections and their associated cancers. It targets the most common cancer-causing infections: helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus, and hepatitis B, and develops a broad and unique pipeline against infections and to prevent and cure its associated cancers.

Established and headquartered in Singapore, SCG combines regional advantages in Singapore, China and Germany. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector R&D agency with a strong interest in novel drug development. Through open innovation, it collaborates with partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit the economy and society.

A version of this article was first published in ChinaBio Today on April 18, 2024

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