Roadmap for future production of sufficient product numbers of cell-based cancer drugs

Cell-based immunotherapies, such as CAR T cell therapy, are effective means of treating cancer. However, technological advances in various disciplines are needed to meet the rapidly growing demand for such novel drugs. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology now summarize the current state of research and discuss possible solutions to overcome biological and technical hurdles in their recent article "Potential solutions for manufacture of CAR T cells in cancer immunotherapy" published in the journal Nature Communications.

In the future, an increasing demand for cell-based cancer drugs is expected. For instances, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved a first application for the use of novel cancer immunotherapies for second-line therapy, i.e. after a first relapse. The article explains this and other backgrounds, such as the steadily increasing number of clinical trials with CAR T cells, and gives an outlook on necessary developments, especially in the field of pharmaceutical manufacturing. The authors also discuss expectations and challenges of off-the-shelf approaches, in which therapeutics would not be personalized but rather produced in stock and available in larger numbers. Furthermore, different cell sources, e.g. induced pluripotent stem cells and natural killer cells, are discussed as a basis for allogeneic cell therapeutics. Finally, the article summarizes the most urgent development needs, including key technologies such as digitalization and automation. The article is intended to serve as an orientation and roadmap for researchers from a wide range of disciplines who wish to contribute to more efficient, economical and needs-based care for cancer patients.

Blache, U., Popp, G., Dünkel, A., Koehl U, Fricke S. Potential solutions for manufacture of CAR T cells in cancer immunotherapy. Nat Commun 13, 5225 (2022). doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-32866-0