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SCG Cell Therapy and A*STAR Collaborate on Joint Labs, Investing Close to S$30 Million to Advance iPSC Technology for Scalable GMP Manufacturing of Cellular Immunotherapies

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

SCG Cell Therapy (SCG) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have announced the inauguration of joint laboratories dedicated to advancing cellular immunotherapies. With close to S$30 million in combined funding under Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan (RIE2025), this collaboration aims to propel the development of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology towards producing innovative cell therapies meeting stringent Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards. Additionally, the partnership will establish a talent development program geared towards nurturing the next generation of experts in this domain, aligned with prevailing GMP and regulatory requisites.

The pursuit of novel technologies is indispensable in addressing evolving healthcare demands and ensuring sustained viability. Nevertheless, translating laboratory breakthroughs into pragmatic clinical solutions presents formidable hurdles. These challenges often involve devising manufacturing protocols, validating analytical methodologies, and integrating automation and digitalization to assure product stability and scalability.

The joint laboratories, situated within SCG’s GMP facility and ASTAR’s research center, capitalize on SCG’s and ASTAR’s proprietary technologies to develop scalable GMP-grade iPSC and therapeutic products. SCG brings to the table its specialized automated cell therapy manufacturing technologies, while A*STAR contributes its distinctive monoclonal antibody assets, iPSC banks, and proficiency in process scaling and analytics.

This collaboration serves as a conduit between public sector research and development (R&D) and industry, pooling resources from SCG Cell Therapy and A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) and Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) to drive innovative R&D towards GMP manufacturing. Moreover, it immerses researchers in a rigorously controlled GMP environment, facilitating the seamless transition from research to clinical application.

Christy Ma, Chief Strategy Officer of SCG Cell Therapy, remarked, “Cellular immunotherapies herald a new era of regenerative medicine, offering hope for patients grappling with cancers and other severe illnesses. As a pivotal player in T cell receptor (TCR) T cell therapeutics, SCG has cultivated in-house cGMP manufacturing capabilities to furnish high-quality cell therapy products to patients. Through this pioneering collaboration with ASTAR, we unite ASTAR’s advanced iPSC technology and bioprocessing capabilities with our proficiency in GMP cell therapy manufacturing and clinical development, advancing our mission to deliver cost-effective off-the-shelf cell therapy treatment options to patients.”

Prof Koh Boon Tong, Executive Director of A*STAR’s BTI, added, “The advent of iPSCs has revolutionized regenerative medicine, offering the potential for standardized, off-the-shelf cell therapies. Through this collaboration with SCG Cell Therapy, we aim to expedite the translation of iPSC research into clinically viable therapies and bolster Singapore's stature as a global frontrunner in cell therapy innovation. Leveraging our complementary expertise and resources, the joint labs will not only drive iPSC technology for scalable, GMP-compliant cell therapy production but also serve as a springboard for cultivating the next generation of talent in this transformative field.”

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) represent a class of pluripotent stem cells that can be generated directly from adult cells. Pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka’s lab in Kyoto, Japan, iPSC technology, unveiled in 2006, demonstrated that the introduction of four specific genes encoding transcription factors could reprogram adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. This breakthrough earned Yamanaka the 2012 Nobel Prize, alongside Sir John Gurdon, for their discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to attain pluripotency. Pluripotent stem cells hold immense promise in regenerative medicine as they possess the ability to propagate indefinitely and differentiate into all other cell types in the body, offering a singular cell source for replenishing those lost to injury or disease.



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