Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult at Advanced Therapies Integrates: A Bird’s Eye Blog

Life Science Integrates’ Advanced Therapies Integrates rolled into London on the 20th October and based on the turn out on the day, was one of hot anticipation and expectancy for the upcoming keynotes, fireside chats and panel discussions. It also happened to be the first time this event was ‘held live in-person' and it appeared to pay handsomely as over 300 attendees made their way through the early morning mist to the venue to be part of discussions around the most cutting-edge field in medicine.

This year, CGT Catapult was an integral partner of ATI, and our Chief Executive, Matthew Durdy got proceedings underway with a series of ‘fireside chats’, in which he welcomed everyone and set the tone for the day ahead with a positive and emotional message. Recognising the organisation’s ten-year anniversary, he admitted “10 years on, we’re in a completely different place... and government is writing the growth of advanced therapies into their plans for growth.”, while going on to emphasise to those present exactly why so many of us are striving to provide therapies for patients that will change lives forever. Referring to a young girl who received life-changing Car-T therapy for Leukaemia 10 years ago, the message was powerful and clear, “every year I’d see her family put out social posts – ‘1 year cancer free’, ‘2 years cancer free’, and then after 10 years, ‘cured’.”

Matthew was joined at the virtual fireplace by Martin Murphy, CEO of Syncona Ltd, to discuss the efficacy of cell and gene therapies that sets them apart from conventional medicines, explaining “these drugs do save people’s lives in a revolutionary way...and the end game is going to be therapies that treat more complex diseases which affect tens of millions of patients.”

Nicola Redfern, consultant at NJ Redfern Ltd, also provided a sobering reminder of some of the challenges faced by the ATMP industry such as cost barriers, pointing out that the UK Treasury and DoH have a lack of understanding of these highly complex therapies. We have to change the mindset of payers. Academics and clinicians need to step up and be more vocal. They need to explain why people should have belief in this type of product.”

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult at Advanced Therapies Integrates: A Bird’s Eye Blog

After a well-earned intake of caffeine and croissants, we got down to the business of the panel discussions. The breadth of subjects embraced by an impressive array of experts made for an engaging afternoon of insight and debate, which was itself supported by some intriguing question and answer responses that ensured the audience was dialled into the heart of these conversations. There were three distinct themes being covered: “Cellular Growth”, a focus on investment and ‘engaging early, was concerned about relationships and getting on the radar of those stakeholders developers wished to target; “Tech to Translate”, focused on innovative technologies to enable ATMPs to access markets and patients; “Making It”, with its focus on manufacturing and ‘investment into the future’.

Highlights we enjoyed included a discussion around pitching to investors (‘Pitch perfect: advancing therapies’), led by Sam Goldsmith where key considerations included thorough targeting, understanding your audience, strategy building and tailor your questions/answers.

In addition, there was an interesting discussion on ‘Healthy Economics for thriving ATMPs’ led by Panos Kefalas, in which Laura Beswick explained the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) landscape, with insights into clinical trial design and how to develop a value story.

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult at Advanced Therapies Integrates: A Bird’s Eye Blog

The flexibility of manufacturing arrangements was discussed in the ‘ATMP: house blend’ session led by Sharon Brownlow, in which panelists agreed that ‘in-house vs out-house' manufacturing is not a black and white issue, while Angela Osborne (eXmoor Pharma Concepts) explained the different manufacturing needs of early and later stage companies. “A key consideration is the people who are going to manufacture this for you”, explained Kasia Averall, who went on to praise the importance of ‘the team’, and describing the complexity of GMP manufacturing of advanced therapies.

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult at Advanced Therapies Integrates: A Bird’s Eye Blog

The day ended with some much needed “refreshments” and the buzz in the air was tangible, as networking and conversation took over. A massive thank you to everyone at Life Sciences Integrates for hosting a brilliant event and providing us with a fantastic platform to share and discuss, learn and inform. We look forward to the next one!

View the recordings from the day below:

Track one “Cellular Growth

Track two “Tech to Translate”

Track three “Making It”