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Catherine Jomary

ATMP Lead, IPS-Integrated Project-Services

Jomary enjoys discussing what this field of medicine can achieve, and practically how we can help get there. She is an expert in the field of ATMPs with over 20 years’ experience in cell and gene therapy, and regenerative medicine research across academic, biotechnological, CDMO, and pharmaceutical sectors. 

She holds a PhD in Neuropharmacology, and was a postdoc research fellow at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital at McGill University, at John Hopkins Medical School, and at the University of Texas Medical School. Jomary has also managed various pre-clinical, clinical, and commercial phases of cell and gene therapy programs.

Her accolades include the UK Wellcome Trust Value in People Award, a Marie Curie Fellowship, a Medical Research Council of Canada Fellowship, and a Fondation Recherche Médicale Française post-doctoral research Fellowship. 

We asked…

What’s been the biggest breakthrough in cell and gene in recent years?

From a scientist’s perspective, the biggest breakthrough in the field of ATMPs is the development of new genome editing tools, such as those based on CRISPR systems as treatments for human diseases. These biotechnological discoveries offer the possibility to introduce any desired modification in targeted sites of the human genome. Gene editing can activate or repress any genes of interest and reprogram cellular identities.

In particular, this gene editing toolbox is used for ex vivo gene therapy to enhance and improve the CAR and TCR engineered T-cell immunotherapy treatments. The researchers’ goal is to create a universal CAR-T cell, reduce the likelihood of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) post-treatment, to increase the safety of allogenic CAR-T therapy, and to prevent potential cancer relapse. For example, teams are using gene editing technology to knockout the native TCR gene expression through removal of specific genes. It will prevent the ex vivo engineered CAR-T cells to be recognized by host antigens and avoid cell rejection. Several clinical trials are ongoing to test these new products and to improve the current CAR-T leukemia treatments and expand their use to other types of cancer.

Since gene editing tools will continue to advance, novel therapeutic approaches will likely emerge to treat more human diseases.

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