Cell technology has numerous applications, from cell modification e.g cell-based therapies for production of therapeutic antibodies. One method of modifying a cell’s genome is to use electroporation – an electrical charge that increases the permeability of the cell membrane – to introduce DNA or other small molecules into the cell.
MaxCyte has developed a cell engineering platform to accelerate the development of cell-based therapies, small molecule drugs and more.
In a recent interview technology networks spoke with DR Cenk SumenMaxCyte’s Chief Scientific Officer on cell engineering applications and how flow electroporation technology can support cell engineering from small to large scale operations.
Katie Brighton (KB): Can you highlight some of the applications of cell-based therapies?
Cenk Sumen (CS): Cells are the starting point for many new therapies. In some cases, the cells act as factories that produce monoclonal antibodies and other therapeutic proteins used to develop treatments.
In cell-based therapies, the cells are the treatment. CAR-T cells are used, for example, to treat hematological cancers. In musculoskeletal and neurological disorders, stem cells show promise in regenerating lost tissues. Various cell therapies are being developed to treat muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and many other diseases.
KB: What are the advantages of an electroporation approach to cell engineering over viral or chemical methods?
CS: Electroporation is an efficient and safe procedure. The cells are placed in a conductive solution and a brief electrical pulse “relaxes” the cell membranes, allowing DNA, RNA or other molecules to enter.
Electroporation simplifies payload transfection into almost any cell type and is suitable for both transient (temporary) and stable (permanent) expression. This process is high-performing and scalable, with unmatched cell viability after transfection, has very low supply chain risk, and is designed to modify cells for research or clinical use.
The MaxCyte electroporation platform enables small-scale research and development through large-scale cell engineering and is safer and can be more cost-effective than viral or chemical transfection methods.
KB: How does electroporation work?® technology work? How is it applied within the ExPERT platform?
CS: The MaxCyte ExPERT platform provides the electroporation instruments and consumables to run any experiment, as well as the unmatched technical support from our field application scientists to ensure every experiment runs smoothly. With its unique solution to scale problems, electroporation flows® Technology enables the development of innovative medicines in clinically required quantities.
In cell and gene therapy, the platform is used to deliver the critical nucleic acid payload to manipulate the patient’s cells. The altered cells are then transplanted, either to the same donor (autologous transplant) or to one or more recipients (allogeneic transplant) to treat the disease. Flow Electroporation® Technology meets the stringent requirements of cell and gene therapy: GMP, high-efficiency, reproducible, non-toxic transfection, payload flexibility, and clinical-scale manufacturing.
The platform is also at the heart of cell engineering for drug development. For example, in bioprocessing and monoclonal antibody production, the cells are grown in bioreactors, followed by MaxCyte flow electroporation® Technology is used to manipulate the cells to produce recombinant proteins. The scalability and flexibility of MaxCyte flow electroporation results in lower costs, less labor, and shorter schedules during protein production.
MaxCyte instruments support electroporation of various payloads and cell types in a range of cell sizes from millions to hundreds of billions.
KB: How does the ExPERT platform support cell engineering from concept to clinic?
CS: ExPERT instrumentation and processing assemblies support cell and gene therapy applications from early research through commercial GMP manufacturing.
The VLx instrument offers our largest scale for bioprocessing applications and can electroporate up to more than 200 billion cells.
KB: MaxCyte’s flow electroporation technology is being used in multiple clinical trials; Can you give us some insight into how flow electroporation technology is applied in these studies?
CS: We support our employees throughout their development journey, helping to streamline workflows, reduce risk and create cost-effective solutions. Our flow electroporation technology is used in the early stages of development, during clinical trials and ultimately in the manufacture of the cell therapeutic used to treat patients. Several of our partners are close to commercializing their therapeutics, and MaxCyte is excited to be a part of their success.
KB: What does the future hold for MaxCyte?
CS: We look forward to the future, particularly the impact we can have on patient access to novel treatments. The cell and gene therapy space is experiencing favorable regulatory trends and high demand for novel therapies in expanding areas. MaxCyte is ideally positioned to help researchers progress from concept to clinic. We are here to save lives. This is what drives us and we will continue to work to support our partners to make this vision a reality.
dr Cenk Sumen spoke to Katie Brighton, Scientific Copywriter for Technology Networks.