Sheba Medical Center and Swiss-based Lonza Pharma collaborate to enhance patient access to CAR T-cell immunotherapy

Sheba Medical Center and Swiss-based Lonza Pharma collaborate to enhance patient access to CAR T-cell immunotherapy

Sheba Medical Center and Swiss-based CDMO Lonza Pharma recently announced a new collaborative venture to use the cutting-edge CocoonTM manufacturing platform to develop point-of-care CAR T-cell therapy. This joint project aims to streamline the in-house cell manufacturing process, thereby enabling a greater amount of critically ill oncology patients to access genetically engineered human CAR T-cells more efficiently.

The patient-centric goal of Sheba and Lonza’s agreement is to provide potentially curative treatment to a larger number of people who suffer from advanced hematological malignancies. Sheba, a leading academic clinical center, has already achieved many positive outcomes by treating cancer patients with breakthrough CAR T-cell therapy. By joining forces with Lonza, an established expert in autologous cell-therapy development and manufacturing, Sheba’s current manual protocols can be channeled into Lonza’s automated CocoonTM platform.

The CocoonTM technology is a closed, automated system for manufacturing cell therapy. Using customizable, disposable cassettes that can be applied to a wide range of autologous cell therapy processes, this system already incorporates many of the unit operations that are needed for end-to-end cell therapy manufacturing. By embracing Cocoon’s automated cell manufacturing process, Sheba can promote a higher standard of cell quality and yield for use in CAR T-cell immunotherapy. At present, the Cocoon device is in beta-testing with a select group of cell and gene therapy customers.

“With the collaborative potential of this venture, we look forward to jointly leading the next personalized cell-therapy revolution,” said Professor Dror Harats, MD, Deputy Director of Research and Development and Director of Clinical Trials at Sheba Medical Center. “Lonza’s CocoonTM platform provides us the ability to manufacture cell therapies faster and closer to the point-of-care and in a scalable manner at lower cost so that we can treat more oncology patients who turn to us as a last resort.”

Eytan Abraham, Head of Personalized Medicine, Lonza Pharma Biotech & Nutrition, added, “This collaboration with Sheba Medical Center, a proven leader in point-of-care manufacturing and treatment of patients with novel immunotherapies, is a key part of the development program for the CocoonTM platform. We aim to confirm the benefits of using our closed, automated GMP-in-a-box concept to more efficiently manufacture personalized cell therapies right where the patients are, enabling treatment of a larger patient population.”

Founded in 1897 in the Swiss Alps, Lonza harnesses science and technology to serve markets along the Healthcare Continuum®. As an integrated solutions provider, their focus is to create a healthy environment, promote healthier lifestyles and preventive healthcare, and improve patient care by supporting their customers’ innovative therapies to treat or cure serious diseases. Lonza is a world-renowned global company that has more than 100 sites and generated sales of CHF 5.5 billion in 2018 with a CORE EBITDA of CHF 1.5 billion.

Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, a university-affiliated tertiary referral hospital, is a world-respected leader in patient care, medical-scientific research, and medical education worldwide. The celebrated partnership between Sheba and Lonza will boost and expand the global reach of advanced, progressive oncology treatments and technologies, such as CAR T-cell therapy, currently under development at Sheba.