Novartis opens facility for innovative cell and gene therapies in Switzerland

New building in Stein also hosts the production of difficult-to-manufacture solid dosage forms

A cell processing specialist at work in new cell and gene facility in Stein. Photo as seen on Novartis website

Novartis has announced the opening of a new manufacturing facility for cell and gene therapies in Stein, Switzerland.

“Our site in Stein is vital for new launches of solid and liquid drugs,” explained Steffen Lang, Global Head of Novartis Technical Operations and member of the Novartis Executive Committee.

Lang continued: “The construction of the new manufacturing facility is another investment in the production of breakthrough cell-based therapies that can potentially change the lives of patients.”

In addition to manufacturing areas for novel CAR-T cell therapies, the new building also hosts the production of innovative, difficult-to-manufacture solid dosage forms, such as tablets and capsules.

Last September, the first clinical production of a cell and gene therapy badge was successfully completed, Novartis said.

Unique manufacturing

Unlike conventional drug production, cell and gene therapy asks for the manufacture of a personal dose for each patient.

For this purpose, patients who have already undergone various therapies have a small amount of their own blood cells taken, which are then sent to Stein.

“Here we enrich part of the white blood cells, the T cells, and genetically modify them so that they can recognize and fight the cancer cells in the patient’s blood,” said Dorothea Ledergerber, project manager of the Stein plant for cell and gene therapies.

The altered cells are then sent back to a hospital and administered to the patient by infusion.

For Ledergerber, Novartis is doing pioneering work here. She explained: “We have the unique opportunity to offer patients for whom there have been no other therapeutic options a totally new perspective by using these novel CAR-T cell therapies.”

Novartis celebrated the opening in the presence of Federal Councillor Alain Berset and other guests on 28th November 2019.

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