Research, Science and Innovation Minister, Megan Woods, has announced that the launch of BioOra, a new company that aims to scale up the manufacture of CAR T-cell cancer therapy in New Zealand.
Dr Woods said BioOra – a partnership between Wellington’s Malaghan Institute and tech incubator Bridgewest Ventures NZ – would automate the manufacturing of CAR T-cells using a technology platform which replicates much of what would be done in the lab, making the process more scalable and efficient.
“The work that has gone into this partnership will open the door for more people to receive cutting edge targeted cancer treatment. This research could have a global impact, and I’m proud that this government has been able to support such amazing innovation through the Technology Incubator Programme and the Partnerships Scheme,” she said.
“CAR T-cell immunotherapy is a ground-breaking treatment, currently used for certain types of blood cancer, that uses a patient’s immune system to target and destroy cancer cells, in a way that is specifically tailored to each patient.
At the centre of the BioOra’s deal are two high-tech ‘cocoons’ (pictured) able to modify human cells in cancer immunotherapy treatment.
“We have a world-class science and research system that pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved to make a real difference to people’s lives, and this partnership is a reflection of that,” Dr Woods said.
The Malaghan Institute is currently conducting a Phase I clinical trial for their CAR T-cell cancer therapy for people with certain types of relapsed and refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma who have exhausted other treatments.
BioOra will develop an automated manufacturing platform for this treatment in New Zealand as the Malaghan Institute works to progress its therapy into Phase II trials, with a long term vision of extending the treatment to other cancers.