Cell engineering has many applications, from modifying cells to cell-based therapies for the production of therapeutic antibodies. One method to modify 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 created a cell engineering platform to accelerate the development of cell-based therapies, small molecule drugs and more.
In a recent interview, Technology Networks talked to Dr. Cenk Sumenchief scientific officer of MaxCyte, about cell engineering applications and how flow electroporation technology can support cell engineering from small-scale 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 therapies in development. In some cases, the cells act as factories, producing monoclonal antibodies and other therapeutic proteins that are used to develop treatments.
In cell-based therapies, the cells are the treatment. CAR T cells, for example, are used to treat hematological cancers. For musculoskeletal and neurological disorders, stem cells hold great promise in regenerating lost tissue. Various cell therapies are being developed to treat muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and many other diseases.
KB: What are the benefits of using an electroporation approach to cell engineering over viral or chemical methods?
CS: Electroporation is an efficient and safe process. 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 facilitates the transfection of cargo into almost any cell type and is suitable for both transient (temporary) and stable (permanent) expression. This process is high-throughput 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 methodologies.
KB: How does electroporation work?® tech job? How is it applied within the Expert platform?
CS: The MaxCyte ExpPERT platform provides the electroporation instruments and consumables to perform each experiment and the unmatched technical support of our field application scientists to ensure each experiment runs smoothly. With its unique solution to scaling problems, flow electroporation® technology enables the development of innovative medicines in the quantities needed for the clinic.
In cell and gene therapy, the platform is used to deliver the critical nucleic acid payload to engineer the patient’s cells. The engineered cells are then transplanted, either into the same donor (autologous transplant) or into one or more recipients (allogeneic transplant) to treat the disease. Flow electroporation® technology meets the stringent requirements of cell and gene therapy: GMP, highly efficient, reproducible, non-toxic transfection, payload flexibility and clinical-scale production.
The platform is also at the core of cell engineering for drug development. In the bioprocessing and production of monoclonal antibodies, for example, cells are grown in bioreactors, then MaxCyte flow electroporation® technology is used to engineer cells to produce recombinant proteins. The scalability and flexibility of MaxCyte flow electroporation results in lower cost, less labor and shortened timescales during protein production.
MaxCyte instruments support the electroporation of various loads and cell types in a range of cell quantities from millions to hundreds of billions.
KB: How does the ExpERT platform support cell engineering from concept to clinic?
CS: EXPERT instruments and processing assemblies support cell and gene therapy applications from early-stage research to commercial GMP production.
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 an insight into how flow electroporation technology is being implemented within these trials?
CS: We support our partners throughout their development journey, helping to optimize workflows, reduce risk and develop cost-effective solutions. Our flow electroporation technology will be used in early stage development, during clinical trials and ultimately in the production of cell therapy to be used to treat patients. Several of our partners are close to commercializing their therapies, and MaxCyte is excited to be a part of their success.
KB: What does the future look like for MaxCyte?
CS: We are excited about the future, especially the impact we can have on patient access to new treatments. The cell and gene therapy space is experiencing favorable regulatory trends and a high demand for new therapies in expanding fields. MaxCyte is ideally positioned to help researchers progress from concept to the clinic. We are here to help 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 was speaking with Katie Brighton, Science Copywriter for Technology Networks.