Gene therapy solution: The value of a CDMO as your end-to-end partner – BioPharma Dive

Posted: October 4, 2020 at 2:15 pm

With ongoing advances in science and technology, the cell and gene therapy pipeline has grown especially robust over the past few years. At present, shows more than 4,500 active gene therapy trials globally. In the United States, McKinsey experts expect to see 10 to 20 cell and gene therapy approvals per year over the next five years.

This rise in supply has created a heightened demand for contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) with biotech expertise. CDMOs typically supply materials and handle production and manufacturing, allowing life sciences companies to focus on innovation and marketing.

The bottleneck stems from a shortage of CDMOs with gene therapy expertise and resources. Considering the critical need for safe, effective gene therapies and the rapid pace of development, it's important for pharma and biopharma to find a CDMO with both gene therapy capabilities and availability to take on new partners nownot 18 months from now.

"Full-service CDMOs that can assist with both development and manufacturing are in highest demand,"said Richard Welch, PhD, vice president, development services for Emergent BioSolutions, a global CDMO and specialty life sciences company headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "As pharma and biopharma companies move from early phase to late phase, CDMOs need experience with process characterization and process validation as well as commercial production and supply chain."

"The supply chain is much more complex,"added Tarek Abdel-Gawad, senior director of commercial strategy for Emergent BioSolutions. "You aren't just growing cells. You're ensuring viruses, helper viruses, and plasmid DNA work together to produce the molecule of choice. Few companies have the capabilities, equipment, and GMP expertise."

Much of the gene therapy development as of late has stemmed from smaller biotech companies or research universities according to a McKinsey report. Large pharmaceutical companies may partner with these organizations on rare disease or oncology treatments two therapeutic areas where much of the research lies.

Many small to midsize companies have the idea and investor support, but do not have the employees, infrastructure or manufacturing space. "A CDMO is a good partner in those cases,"said Mukesh Mayani, PhD, principal scientist, gene therapy at Sanofi. "You can test your hypotheses and work with a CDMO that has the platform, the people, and the preclinical models. This arrangement speeds up the timeline and allows these innovative companies to focus on other modalities and molecules."

Pharma and biopharma companies of all sizes can learn from this "single-source"approach. Partnering with a CDMO earlier in the processfrom preclinical development through packagingfrees up resources to focus on innovation and communication.

"It is neither simple nor cheap to develop and manufacture gene therapies,"said Dr. Welch. "A CDMO has the built-in skill set to grow viruses at the densities necessary to meet early-phase studies while hitting safety margins. With the clinical trial failure rate as high as it is, working with a CDMO that has experience in different technologies and products makes for a more efficient, cost-effective process."

Although there is a high demand now for CDMOs with gene therapy expertise, the market is quickly growing. According to Grand View Research, the CDMO market is expected to grow from $115.6 billion in 2020 to $157.7 billion in 2025, outpacing the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. New cell and gene therapy CDMOs are emerging and established CDMOs are expanding capabilities.

Before you start your CDMO search, consider the following two factors:

When vetting CDMOs for your gene therapy studies, consider the strengths and weaknesses of your company as well as your potential CDMO partner. A few points to consider include:

As gene therapy research continues to expand, innovators in this space will need CDMOs with highly specific expertise, facilities, and equipment. Choose a partner that can assist from the earliest phases of product development all the way to commercialization.

Capra, Emily, et al. "Gene therapy coming of age: Opportunities and challenges to getting ahead."McKinsey, October 2, 2019

Gene therapy solution: The value of a CDMO as your end-to-end partner - BioPharma Dive

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