Uniting a Cell and Gene Kingdom
Exploring the ins and outs of a recent UK-based collaboration between two prominent advanced medicine players
The UK currently holds the crown for the highest concentration of cell and gene therapy companies in Europe – a significant portion of which are situated in Stevenage, including the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult). To further bolster the UK’s capabilities in the cell and gene sector, the CGT Catapult has announced a partnership with Cryoport to establish the country’s first global supply chain logistics center.
Members of the Cryoport UK team have maintained a longstanding connection with Catapult’s leadership since their formation in 2012. Discussions around potential collaboration commenced in 2021 – but it wasn’t until 2023 that an opportunity emerged to secure a facility adjacent to Catapult's UK Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Stevenage.
The new facility – and the new partnership – has several key objectives. “We will focus on optimizing just-in-time logistics, simplifying UK import and release procedures, and implementing digital supply chain enhancements,” said Robert Jones, Vice President of Global BioServices at Cryoport Systems. “This, in turn, should hopefully accelerate the development and commercialization of cell and gene therapies in the UK. We also hope the proximal location of Cryoport will provide immediate logistics support to Catapult’s many therapy developer collaborators as well as other cell and gene therapy companies in the immediate area.”
The Cryoport GMP-compliant facility is equipped with liquid nitrogen, back-up power systems, stringent security measures, and high-quality HVAC, enabling rapid operations with minimal infrastructure modifications and offering modernized solutions. The goal is to reduce risks and costs while capitalizing on the UK's favorable clinical ecosystem and well-funded advanced therapy programs, positioning the country as a global hub for manufacturing and clinical research.
According to Mark Sawicki, President and CEO of Cryoport Systems and Chief Scientific Officer of Cryoport, standardization will also be important to help grow the UK’s cell and gene sector.
“The current obstacle we face as an industry is the absence of standardization, a practice vital for ensuring consistent quality, regulatory compliance, and interoperability among stakeholders. Today, companies use a diverse array of systems and technologies, making harmonization a herculean challenge,” says Sawicki. “And though achieving comprehensive standardization across all facets of the cell and gene therapy industry may be a stretch too far for now, it’s essential to consider shorter-term solutions as well. By introducing and gradually expanding standardization efforts, even within specific sectors of the field, the cell and gene space will benefit immensely.”
Operations are set to commence early 2024.
Associate Editor, The Medicine Maker