A couple months after landing $100 million in funding, Cellares grabs partner for its Cell Shuttle
The team at Cellares hopes that its Cell Shuttle is the future of end-to-end cell therapy manufacturing. On Wednesday, the company announced that one more company has signed up to work alongside it.
Poseida has signed on to provide therapies for the Cell Shuttle, a portable factory Cellares hopes will disrupt the expensive and logistically complicated cell therapy manufacturing process. The company is the third to ink a deal with Cellares, which is based out of South San Francisco, CA. Cellares has already has been collaborating with PACT Pharma and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
“We were very systematic about how we select potential partners, and really, amongst other things what we were looking for were pharma companies that have a very deep pipeline, so not a one-trick pony but ideally many different assets, already clinical stage, different cell therapy modalities,” CEO Fabian Gerlinghaus said in an interview with Endpoints News. “In Poseida’s case, they meet all of those criteria.”
The Cell Shuttle is an end-to-end plant in a box designed to create an automated cell therapy platform that takes in a patient’s cells at the start and turns out a finished cell therapy product ready to be injected back into a patient at the end. The innovation could be an answer to the production bottleneck that has impacted the world of cell therapy.
The shuttle would allow pharmaceutical companies to effectively scale and deploy the tech wherever it works best, be it a hospital or a clean room in a manufacturing facility. Cellares landed a Series B round of fundraising in May, bringing its total funding to $100 million so far.
Poseida has two patient-derived CAR-T product candidates in the clinic right now, including P-BCMA-101 for patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and P-PSMA-101 for metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Poseida will evaluate the shuttle prototypes, and give back data and feedback to improve performance and help get the tech ready for the market.
The company has off-the-shelf versions of both P-BCMA-101 and P-PSMA-101, and is exploring TCR-T, an anti-c-kit CAR-T, natural killer cells and genetically modified hematopoietic stem cells. The connection came through Carl June, an oncologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania who is an advisor to Cellares and a member of the Poseida advisory board.
“We’re also looking for partners that really get it and are excited to be working with us and are the first adopters and champions,” Gerlinghaus said. “(Partners) who say ‘look, we have some imagination, we see this as the future of cell therapy manufacturing and we want to be a part of that, we’re in.’ We found that in Poseida, and they’ve been very proactive.”
Cellares is in the process of organizing user studies right now, and gathering information about how the Cell Shuttle interacts with a company’s candidates helps Cellares inch closer to the end goal. So far, Gerlinghaus says that the company has made two small tweaks and one “not-so small” change to the shuttle as a result of its work with existing partners.
“Happy to report that the early partnership program is working as designed, it’s actually delivering on its purpose, and you can quote me on that,” he said Monday.