Former Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has joined the board of Irish cell therapy company aCGT Vector.
aCGT Vector is developing a network of cell therapy pods within leading cancer hospitals. St James’s Hospital in Dublin is its first operating facility.
The standalone units can be dropped in or driven onto the hospital campus. Each pod allows for on-site CAR-T treatment processing at or near hospitals. The pods can be expanded to accommodate the number of patients to be treated at a given location.
The company said the pods will ensure patients benefit from shorter waiting times and potentially better treatment outcomes, allowing cell therapy companies to more efficiently and effectively produce cell therapies in a way that streamlines both clinical trials and commercial distribution of approved treatments.
CAR-T cell therapy is where a cancer patient’s white blood cells are removed, genetically modified and returned to the patient where the CAR-T cells identify and attack cancer cells in the body.
Since 2020, approximately 50 Irish patients have received CAR-T treatment. The first 30 patients had to travel abroad to receive the treatment, along with the remaining 20 patients at St James’s Hospital.
It can take up to six weeks before a patient’s transformed cells are available for infusion into the patient, a process that aCGT Vector is trying to significantly shorten with in-situ pods.
The company, which was founded by Gary McAuslan and former industrialist Ivan Coulter in 2020, is part of a group, Healed, which is looking to develop next-generation cell therapies for cancer. The organization received 10.5 million euros in grant support from the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.
The company’s CEO, Mr McAuslan, said: “Tony is one of the most outstanding and respected public health experts in Europe and we are delighted that he will lead our strategic advisory board.
Dr Holohan said aCGT Vector has the potential to transform patient access to the latest cell therapy innovations in the fight against cancer and other rare diseases.
The company has also announced that Takeda cell therapy specialist Dr Aine Adams is joining the company as Head of Cell Therapy (Manufacturing, Science and Technology).