The Future of T-Cell Manufacturing for Immunotherapy – An Interview With Dr. Ohad Karnieli

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Cancer treatment has evolved in recent years from unspecific aggressive therapies, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, to new and more specific immune therapies.

New therapies called immune cell therapy or Adoptive Cell Transfer (ACT) have evolved in recent years. These therapies aim to activate and “educate” the immune system to attack the tumor. CAR-T therapy (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) is one such therapy in which T cells from the patient are “engineered” outside the body, activated, expanded, and reinfused to the patient.

CAR-T therapy has shown unprecedented clinical efficacy in Leukemia, where above 80% of end-stage patients showed remission.

However, the CAR-T treatments are costly and have a capacity of a few thousand patients annually due to the need for manually manufacturing in specific designated clean rooms.

For this exact purpose, the ADVA X³ system was developed by Dr. Ohad Karnieli, founder and CEO at ADVA Biotechnology.

Dr. Karnieli and his team have developed a modular cell expansion system that enables autologous T cell therapy manufacturing – at bedside. The meaning of this is quite impactful: a shorter period between the patient’s blood sampling and the beginning of the treatment, at a significantly lower price. The new technology is expected to enable this treatment to a much larger number of patients in need.

In this interview, Dr. Karnieli introduces the principles and main features of autologous immune cell proliferation and expansion systems. He explains the important factors that should be considered when selecting a routine T cell culture media.

The media is much more than just a mixture of juices that allows expansion. It’s not only how fast the cells grow, but it’s their quality. The media has in it a lot of different supplements and a lot of different growth factors, and we know that cells react to them

Dr. Karnieli emphasizes the significance of using serum-free media, which eliminates the need to add serum to the system.

Serum, it doesn’t matter if it comes from animals or from humans, is a risk factor, and it has to be mitigated. The second thing is the variation. When you use serum, again, it doesn’t matter if it’s bovine or human, it’s a pool of different serums. Once it’s a pool, every pool is different. So the amount of growth factors, the amount of cytokines, the level of cytokines – will be different. And this is something that you cannot measure quantitatively as part of the manufacturing. You can’t really control it.

Sartorius recently launched 4Cell® Nutri-T, xeno-free, serum-free media, optimized for activating and expanding PBMCs (T cells, CAR-Ts) and TILs in ex-vivo cell culture conditions. Read more about 4Cell® Nutri-T.

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