Daniel Gibson, Head of Innovation and Commercialisation talks about the importance of securing the right material for research, and how Anthony Nolan can support pioneering researchers in sourcing it.
I find it fascinating to visit researchers. I’ve had the pleasure of being shown around world class, cutting edge, multi-million-pound facilities, as well been led into a basement lab reminiscent of the opening scenes of a zombie movie!
Despite the difference in settings, there are striking commonalities between laboratories. The objectives and the work carried out in these labs are very similar, and there is always a team of passionate driven scientists striving to make a difference to patients’ lives.
What I have found, is that a lot of times researchers aren’t working with the best cell source as starting material, rather they are working with what they can get their hands on. Whether this is due to budget restraints, requiring ethics approval, or simply understanding the best place to access starting material.
Using the best materials
Sometimes, these starting materials are OK as the breakthrough is in the process and not the product. In gene editing for example, typically in the autologous setting, the treatment involves removing the patient’s own stems cells., use gene editing to correct an error and engraft the cells back into the patient. However, it’s not possible to optimise the process or test different methods on the patient’s own cells.
At this point, researchers could use donated cells to optimise the process and achieve the scientific advances required to overcome the reliance on viral vectors. These cells may come from an adult donor or cord blood, making the chances of success more attainable due to the lower costs
I have observed that there are different capabilities at different points in the research development chain. Early stage developments typically have a degree of flexibility in the design space, but have limited budget. As it moves closer to clinical use and the control space is defined, there are typically higher scale out budgets.
How Anthony Nolan can help
Having seen the expansion of cell and gene therapies over the last year, Anthony Nolan recognises the improvements that can – and should – be brought forward to improve patient outcome and quality of life through innovation. This is why our ambition is to support and facilitate research by providing high quality, ethically approved starting materials. We want to use our years of expertise to be a uniquely responsive, consistent and scalable source for starting materials from early stage research, right through to clinical trials and beyond.
Because of our unique position, with the combination of our volunteer donor registry and our cord blood programme, we can offer an end-to-end solution that can help with the early stage research, while also being responsive and scalable.
In some circumstances, we have been able to provide cord-derived cells as a lower-cost surrogate cell source to facilitate early development and protocol assessment in research. To date, this has typically been done where the assessment is looking at a process or machine efficacy, and where the cell target is not the focus of the assessment. At the later stages, after the risks associated with early development have been mitigated and the proof of concept has been completed, we can scale with researchers to meet their needs by providing adult cells.
Anthony Nolan Cell and Gene Therapy services provides high quality cells for research. With 45 years of experience in donor recruitment and cell provision we have amassed critical knowledge that can help provide the best quality products for specific research needs.
If you’d like more information, please get in touch with the Anthony Nolan Cell & Gene Therapy team on CellandGeneTherapies@anthonynolan.org