Avectas has received funding to develop a cell engineering technology platform to manufacture ‘off-the-shelf’ cell therapies for cancer treatment.
Irish cell engineering firm Avectas is leading a project in partnership with the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) and Bluebridge Technologies, which will invest $8.7 million – including $5.3 million awarded by the Irish Government’s Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund (DTIF) – to develop the cell engineering platform Solupore.
“Solupore is a comprehensive end-to-end cell engineering platform that comprises a proprietary delivery solution and automated fluid-handling device for controlled, rapid, transient permeabilization of the cell membrane to enable the non-viral delivery of biomolecular cargos, including nucleic acids and proteins, to cells for genetic modifications,” a spokeswoman for Avectas told BioProcess Insider.
According to Avectas, this award enables it to expand its Solupore platform to manufacture allogeneic products that can treat a large number of patients, while also supporting Ireland’s aim of being a major player in the cell therapy space.
All three firms have different roles in developing the platform. Bluebridge Technologies will design, create, and test software to support the manufacturing technology and advance digitalisation for the platform throughout the project. NIBRT will test the platform in an end-to-end manufacturing process and adopt the technology by installing the Solupore platform at its facilities.
Avectas believes its Solupore platform will make it easier to bring products to market as “the technology is highly adaptable and fully configurable under software control,” with the potential to “integrate several unit processes reducing both cost and process time.”
Avectas’ spokeswoman told us “Solupore’s delivery process is efficiently achieved by a gentle chemically-mediated reversible permeabilization of the membrane which causes minimum perturbation, resulting in cells remaining viable and fully-functional.”
She added that the platform allows “ex vivo custom genetic modification of a range of naturally occurring cells – including T cells, Natural Killer cells and stem cells – to treat cancer [and other diseases]. It also supports the further engineering of virally transduced CAR-T and CAR-NK cells for the development of next generation CAR therapeutics.”
The company claims the platform can overcome the limitations other technologies have such as viral vectors and electroporation as it is rapid and includes minimal steps.
“Solupore […] is well tolerated by cells [and] measured thorough high viability and functionality. The immunology cell engineering by Solupore are good killers, [which] produces superior results related to the delivery of molecular cargo and related to improved potency. Solupore is addressing emerging cell delivery challenges associated with multiple cell modifications and engineering of cells that are limited or fragile.”