Irvine Scientific looks to tap CAR-T growth with new media

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

A healthy human T cell.
A healthy human T cell.

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Cell culture media manufacturer Irvine Scientific has launched a new xeno-free and serum-free medium that supports immunotherapy production. 

PRIME-XV T Cell Expansion XSFM is a medium optimized for the expansion of human T cells that reliably maintains potency, the company claims. 

Jessie Ni, Chief Scientific Officer at Irvine, told BioPharma-Reporter that there has been “significant progression around T cell research​” but the cell culture and media development “has not progressed too quickly​” over the past 30 years. 

Ni also stressed the advantages of media that don’t contain serum as there are “major concerns​” around the potential for transmitted bovine diseases that the animal-derived components of a serum can cause, and serum can also contain “a lot of undefined components​.” The potential shortage of serum also may drive the price up and hinder the final cost of the media, she added. 

Immunotherapy has emerged as a potentially viable approach for treating some forms of cancer and by using a process called adoptive cell transfer (ACT), where T cells have been engineered to produce chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), a surface receptor that allows T cells to recognize tumor-specific proteins and kill targeted tumor cells. This method has generated positive results in small clinical trials, though to further support the research and development, efficient expansion of desired T cell subsets with proper potency is critical to ensure an adequate population of T cells with targeted specificity. 

The promise of CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor transduced T) cells also has created high valuations for newly created companies such as Juno Therapeutics, Kite Pharma and Bluebird Bio. MD Anderson also licensed its CAR-T technology to Ziopharm and Intrexon in exchange for more than $100m in stock of both companies, while other companies are partnering to get in on the action​, including Amgen and Novartis. 

Part of the challenge to make CAR-T therapies “more clinically realistic​” is to improve the performance of the media, Ni said, noting that this latest offering could mean lower volumes can be used, which would be more cost-effective for companies looking to scale up production. 

Immunotherapy offers significant hope, particularly in the area of novel cancer treatment options​,” Ni added. “We have developed this new medium using the most up-to-date knowledge of T cell biology to deliver improved performance over serum-containing and other existing commercial xeno-free, serum-free media in supporting ex vivo quality expansion of various human T cell subsets​.”

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