Institutes participating in the partnership include the Stanford University School of Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
The Cocoon platform is a closed automated cell therapy manufacturing platform enabling decentralized process development. A transportable cassette that internalizes all of the media, agents, and consumables used in the process is attached inside and the Cocoon closes and begins processing.
Each Cocoon develops therapy for one patient, therefore the technology is ‘patient-scale’, and the process can be scaled with many Cocoons, attached on ‘Cocoon trees’ operating at the same time.
Under the agreement, Lonza’s experts will work collaboratively with research teams of the partners to transfer some of their existing cell-based immunotherapies, which are in pre-clinical phase, to the Cocoon bioprocessing system.
Subsequently, the process development will be ‘shared’ between the partner’s facilities and Lonza’s R&D site in Shady Grove (MD), US.
“Once these therapies enter the clinic, whether manufacturing is at the institutes or elsewhere, the Cocoon platform will enable this,” Eytan Abraham, head of personalized medicine at Lonza, told us.
Asked about the potential immunotherapies examined, Abraham said that they target a combination of hematological malignancies, solid malignancies, and processes that use non-viral delivery of the gene of interest.
Use of the Cocoon technology can potentially benefit the organizations development projects in several ways, including increased process control, reductions in costs, manpower, time and space requirements, as well as offering superior scalability thereby enabling treatment of larger patient populations.
Further than that, Lonza expects the partnerships to help assess the technology and evaluate the platform’s potential to manufacture a range of cell therapies comparable to those manufactured through other processes currently available.
“Through these collaborations we are both showcasing the Cocoon advantages and capabilities, but also learning what is needed for decentralized based manufacturing of the next wave of patient scale cell therapies,” Abraham told us.
He added that, accordingly, the company will continue to evolve the system to answer these needs, whether they increase cell numbers, improve in-process analytics, integration of additional technologies, such as magnetic cell separation and electroporation, or scaling technologies.