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GE Healthcare signs cell therapy research partnership

Will work with Karolinska University Hospital to investigate clinical technology and workflow needs

GE Healthcare has struck a three-year partnership deal with Sweden's Karolinkska University Hospital to research cell therapy technology advances and workflow needs.

Karolinska University Hospital is leading several pioneering cell therapy trials for the treatment of cancer as well as neurological and metabolic disorders. 

But it faces a number of technological and regulatory challenges. The partners want to identify what new technologies are required to grow, handle, process and analyse cells, and develop “robust, reproducible and standardised protocols and workflows” for manufacturing and quality control. 

Professor Johan Permert, director for development and innovation at the Karolinska University Hospital, said he hoped the collaboration could solve problems that hinder cell therapies from becoming an established treatment. 

“By involving not only researchers and industry partners but also the public healthcare system, we are aiming to develop methods and tools that accelerate the implementation of cell therapies into standard treatment. 

“In addition, this collaboration is a first initiative to develop enhanced interaction between Karolinska University Hospital and industry, which will lead to improved care chains.”

Cell therapy, which sees cells used to replace damaged tissue or treat disease, is a burgeoning area with more than 500 studies worldwide currently at the clinical experimental phase.

Dr Amr Abid, general manager cell technologies at GE Healthcare Life Sciences, said: “Cell therapy offers the hope that one day there will be treatments for diseases for which today there is no cure. Our vision at GE Healthcare is to help make that hope reality for patients and doctors by developing the technologies and workflows that will help bring cell therapy to the clinic.“

The barriers companies face when developing advanced cell therapies, such as cell-based products, was highlighted earlier this year by advisors to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EMA's Committee for Advanced Therapies, an area that includes gene therapies, cell therapies and tissue-engineered products in animals, called on the regulator to do more to support firms working in the area.

"This causes a translational gap between development of these medicines and reaching later regulatory milestones," the committee writes.

It continued: "The EMA should try to close this gap by providing scientific advice, getting sponsors to meet with its Innovation Task Force, and running scientific workshops.”

23rd May 2012

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