Drug Solutions Podcast: Cell Therapy Development: Advances, Trends, and the Challenge of Retention

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Experts from Umoja Biopharma dive into cell therapy development in this episode of the Drug Solutions Podcast, including the greatest advancements in cell therapy to date, areas for improvement, the biggest trends in cell therapy development, and retention as a pain point.

Cell therapies are a hot topic in the bio/pharma industry today. In this episode of the Drug Solutions Podcast, Meg Rivers, senior editor, Andrew Scharenberg, CEO, Umoja Biopharma, and Ryan Crisman, co-founder and chief technical officer, Umoja Biopharma, discuss:

  • The greatest advancements in cell therapy to date
  • Where there’s room for improvement
  • The biggest trends in cell therapy development
  • The pros and cons of developing cell and gene therapies
  • And much more.

In the discussion, one thing that came up a few times was that one of the major challenges in developing cell therapy is retention. This issue, according to the speakers, has led to the current trend for some biopharma companies to insource development rather than outsource to contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs). The speakers also discussed scale up vs. scale out and various challenges and opportunities for autologous and allogeneic therapies.


About the speakers

Dr. Andrew Scharenberg is the CEO of Umoja Biopharma, an MPM portfolio company. He also serves as an executive partner at MPM Capital and chairs the scientific advisory boards at Generation Bio, Genti Bio, and Alpine Immune Sciences. Prior to founding Umoja, Scharenberg co-directed the program in cell and gene therapy at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, working to translate cell and gene therapies for the treatment of inherited immunologic and blood diseases. This work led to the development of a program in engineered regulatory T-cells, partnered with Casebia Therapeutics, for the purpose of developing gene-edited cell therapeutics for type 1 diabetes and other inflammatory diseases. Previously, he was the chief scientific officer of Cellectis Therapeutics, where he initiated the development of an allogeneic CAR T-cell platform, and was the co-founder of Pregenen Inc., a gene-editing and cell-signaling technology company that was acquired by bluebird bio in 2014.

Ryan Crisman, PhD, is the co-founder and chief technical officer of Umoja Biopharma. Before starting Umoja in 2019, Crisman served as the executive director for the Gates biomanufacturing facility, where he was responsible for building out and staffing this protein and cell therapy CDMO. He was instrumental in growing the facility’s current good manufacturing practice capabilities and delivering many first-in-human therapeutic products to patients. While at Juno Therapeutics, Crisman led the JCAR017 chemistry, manufacturing, and controls program and was the head of late-stage process development. He has also held scientific leadership positions at Zymogenetics and CMC Biologics.

About the Drug Solutions Podcast

Pharmaceutical Technology presents the Drug Solutions podcast, where the editors will chat with industry experts from across the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical supply chain. Join us as experts share insights into your biggest questions—from the technologies, to strategies, to regulations related to the development and manufacture of drug products.

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