Optimization of novel immune cell therapies

Press release / February 01, 2021

Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI and Klinikum Chemnitz gGmbH (Chemnitz hospital) expand cooperation

Cell- and gene-based drugs, so-called Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs), are now increasingly being used in the treatment of cancer. At the Fraunhofer IZI in Leipzig, PD Dr. Stephan Fricke, head of the GMP Process Development Department, is working on improving the manufacturing processes for such highly complex drugs. As specialist in internal medicine, hematology and oncology, specialist in immunology of the German Society for Immunology (DGfI) and senior physician at the Clinic for Internal Medicine III at Klinikum Chemnitz gGmbH, he also bridges the gap to their application.

ATMPs contain or consist of "living" cells, which are intended to bring about a long-term cure in patients after application. In addition to cell and gene therapeutics, this also includes other biotechnologically processed tissue products. The Fraunhofer IZI has long been a central manufacturing and development site for a CAR-T cell therapy. This novel cancer immunotherapy uses patients own T cells to fight certain forms of blood cancer. In the GMP Process Development department, Fricke and his team are working to develop better manufacturing processes for such ATMPs.

Since the beginning of 2021, the physician at the Chemnitz hospital, in cooperation with the Poliklinik Chemnitz gGmbH (Chemnitz Polyclinic), has offered a consultation for patients with immunodeficiencies. These can occur, for example, in connection with cancer or with recurring infections or inflammations. "This connection to the practice is very important for my idea of research, namely translational and close to the patient, and my concrete research work," he explains.

In addition to the research and development of new ATMPs, the work of PD Dr. Fricke and his team is thereby aimed at the transfer of optimized manufacturing processes from the laboratory to the clinical scale. In collaboration with the institute director of the Fraunhofer IZI, Professor Ulrike Köhl, and the main department GMP Cell and Gene Therapy, the department GMP Process Development is a competent partner for improving GMP processes, making them more cost-effective and adapting them, and additionally bringing them into clinical application.