New US CDMO launched to address viral vector supply bottleneck

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/z_wei
© GettyImages/z_wei

Related tags CAR-T Gene therapy lentiviral vector

Vector BioMed, a CDMO specializing in the manufacture of lentiviral vectors, launched this week; its first financing round was led by Viking Global Investors and Casdin Capital.

Vector BioMed has raised $7.5m in the first tranche of a $15m total funding round, a spokesperson told us.

In conjunction with the funding and launch, co-founder, Boro Dropulić, has become the CEO of the new contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO).

He brings more than 30 years of leadership and experience in the design, development, manufacturing, clinical translation, regulatory, clinical implementation, and commercialization of lentiviral vector technology, leading the team that first demonstrated the safety of lentiviral vectors in humans with his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania. He later founded Lentigen, which developed the lentiviral vector used to produce Kymriah, the first FDA-approved gene therapy product.

The capital generated in the funding round will support the acceleration of commercial operations to provide rapid access to high-quality lentiviral vectors for pre-clinical development, clinical trials, and commercialization, said the company.

Its manufacturing facility, based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, covers about 25,000 sq ft (2322 sq m). The site was previously used for GMP lentiviral vector manufacturing, for over 10 years, said the representative.

Vector supply bottleneck 

Vector BioMed outlined how it will provide partners with the capabilities to take their lentiviral vector-based medicinal concepts into the clinic and accelerate their path to commercialization.

The CDMO is intent on addressing the industry's current vector supply bottleneck by providing lentiviral vectors at scale, while also offering turnkey solutions for vector design and optimization, pre-clinical manufacturing, GMP manufacturing, and other support services.

The commercial success of CAR-T cell therapy in cancer and hematopoietic stem cells for genetic diseases has created an exponential demand for manufacturing capacity and reagents, most notably for custom lentiviral vectors – the preferred method for delivery of genes into therapeutic cellular populations, but the company reported an 18–24-month backlog for lentiviral vector manufacturing services.

"With the FDA granting approval of several gene therapy products, there is now a tremendous demand for the manufacture of lentiviral vectors, which are critical for clinical trials and commercialization. Vector BioMed aims to transform the industry by providing algorithm-optimized, high-titer, and high-quality lentiviral vectors for partners that seek to move quickly to clinical trials and commercialization. Our team has decades of experience manufacturing lentiviral viral vectors, providing tremendous value for our partners,”​ said Dropulić.

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