GE Healthcare, KUH partner to drive advances in cell therapy technologies

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Karolinska University Hospital Sweden and GE Healthcare Life Sciences today announced a joint research collaboration to drive advances in technologies and workflows for use in the rapidly emerging field of cell therapy. The three year collaboration will combine Karolinska University Hospital's world-class clinical expertise in cell therapy with GE Healthcare's industry-leading capabilities in cell biology and in technologies for the manufacture of biotherapeutics.

Cell therapy, the use of cells to replace damaged tissue or to treat disease, shows great promise for the treatment of many life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, Parkinson's and age-related macular degeneration. There is enormous interest in the potential health benefits of cell therapy, with more than 500 studies worldwide currently at the clinical experimental phase. Karolinska University Hospital is leading several pioneering cell therapy trials for the treatment of cancer as well as neurological and metabolic disorders. GE Healthcare Life Sciences has over 30 years' experience in developing technologies for the manufacture of biotherapeutics. The company also has a pioneering research program aimed at developing new technologies that will help enable the new era of cell therapy.

The goal of the collaboration is to explore and advance future technology and workflow needs for cell therapy in a clinical setting. Before cell therapy can be used as a routine treatment, there are a number of significant technological and regulatory challenges that need to be addressed. Routine cell therapy will require new technologies to grow, handle, process and analyze cells, as well as the development of robust, reproducible and standardized protocols and workflows for manufacturing and quality control. Karolinska University Hospital and GE Healthcare will work together to identify what is needed to make this a reality. The research will be coordinated by Pontus Blomberg from the Karolinska University Hospital in conjunction with scientists and bio-engineers from GE Healthcare Life Sciences.

Welcoming the collaboration, Professor Johan Permert, Director for Development and Innovation, Karolinska University Hospital said, "Our expectation from this exciting and innovative collaboration is to solve problems that hinder cell therapies from becoming an established treatment. By involving not only researchers and industry partners but also the public healthcare system, we are aiming to develop methods and tools that accelerate the implementation of cell therapies into standard treatment. In addition, this collaboration is a first initiative to develop enhanced interaction between Karolinska University Hospital and industry, which will lead to improved care chains."

Dr. Amr Abid, General Manager Cell Technologies, GE Healthcare Life Sciences said, "Cell therapy offers the hope that one day there will be treatments for diseases for which today there is no cure. Our vision at GE Healthcare is to help make that hope reality for patients and doctors by developing the technologies and workflows that will help bring cell therapy to the clinic. These are big challenges which will only be overcome by working hand-in-hand with the world's foremost experts in clinical cell therapy, which is why we're delighted to be working with the world-class cell therapy team at Karolinska."

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