CGT Catapult and pHion Therapeutics join forces

British companies promote the RALA gene therapy delivery method to the immunotherapy market

A collaboration between two companies has been formed in the UK to increase access and decrease the cost of an ex-vivo delivery of non-viral cell therapy. The Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult and pHion Therapeutics have agreed to further their relationship to develop an efficient process to use pHion's proprietary RALA technique. The agreement builds upon the September 2017 collaboration between the organisations and aims to build alternative platforms for gene delivery and lower the costs of goods (COG) for cell therapy manufacturing.

One of the major costs in cell and gene therapy is the ex-vivo delivery of genetic material into the cells by means of a virus, this can account for up to half of the COG. Utilising RALA, a non-viral delivery methodology instead, could significantly reduce the COG and dependence upon viral vectors.

The design of cost-effective, non-viral vehicles, capable of transporting and releasing functional genetic material at high efficiencies without toxicity is one of the main challenges for the development of gene-modified cell and gene therapies.

As part of this agreement, CGT Catapult gain exclusive rights to use the method developed by pHion Therapeutics. The plan is to cost-effectively use the RALA method and promote further research into therapies based on it. This method involves a charged peptide that spontaneously forms nanoparticles when mixed with nucleic acids.

CGT Catapult will sub-license the technology to produce a cheaper production method, while pHion will then promote further research into the application of RALA in new therapies.

Keith Thompson, the CEO of CGT Catapult, expects that “alongside appropriate integration technologies” this partnership will contribute to the immunotherapy market. Specifically for companies in the ex-vivo and gene therapies areas.

Commenting on the news, Helen McCarthy, the founder and CEO of pHion Therapeutics, said: “we firmly believe pHion’s RALA technology will be disruptive for ex-vivo cell and gene therapies and lower the costs of goods (COG) for cell therapy manufacturing.”

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