A fully synthetic method for producing plasmid has been created by PepVax, an early-stage biotech, as a way of making cell therapies more efficient and less painful for patients.
The CEO of PepVax, Mahesh Narayanan, told us, cell therapies have always been hard to manufacture, with the process taking cells and manipulating them.
The process can also be painful to the patient; manufacturing cell therapies, DNA, RNA, and proteins using cell culture involves removing blood cells from the patient and manipulating them before re-administering them to the patient.
“With administration of externally manufactured drugs of these types, there are also strong possibilities for anti-drug-antibodies (ADAs) or over-acting immune responses leading to potential autoimmune reactions like cytokine storms,” said Narayanan.
“Trojan Horse” drugs function on a cell-based drug delivery platform, which uses the patient’s own cells to produce proteins, DNA or RNA. This is more efficient than the current methods, as current methods require cells to be removed from the patient and then administered back while the “Trojan Horse” method does not require the cells to be removed.
This platform is currently being tested in pre-clinical animal studies, which have shown strong production and immune responses – no studies have been conducted in humans yet. Currently, PepVax is looking to partner with a biopharma company to use this platform in drug development.
Narayana stated, “There is a strong push towards DNA and RNA-based treatments in oncology with gene therapies and cell therapies as well as protein-based treatments like antibodies. SMARTmid will speed up the drug development for manufacturing and scale-up for all of these types of treatments.”