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12th May 2021  Product update: rapidvirology staff writer

ViroCell - the UK’s First Clinical Trial Focused Viral Vector Manufacturer


Viral vectors are the primary delivery method for innovative vaccines such as the Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID vaccine, as well as enabling inputs for the manufacture of the rapidly growing Cell and Gene Therapy sector (CGT) also known as Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP).

ViroCell aims to be the supplier of choice for viral vectors and gene modified cells, to academic and corporate clients, for translational cell and gene therapies going into clinical trials. ViroCell has assembled the UK’s most experienced viral vector manufacturing team to support its heavy operational demand and is now building out further manufacturing capability to address the current, acute supply chain bottlenecks worldwide. ViroCell is deploying significant capital and management talent around the viral vector design and manufacturing track record of Farzin Farzaneh, PhD – Professor of Molecular Medicine at King’s College London, and expects to employ more than 50 professionals in the UK by the end of 2021.

The fast-growing demand in viral vectors for clinical trials makes clear the pressing need for a highly experienced commercial Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) that can leverage the best of the UK’s world-leading heritage by investing in new capacity, to design and deliver viral vectors for clinical trials faster and more reliably. The curative potential seen from the first wave of approved CGTs, is driving new company formation and external investment into therapies heading for clinical trial. The internationally renowned ViroCell team has contributed to innovative therapies to combat childhood inherited genetic diseases from muscular dystrophy to lysosomal storage disorders; and in adult acquired diseases from leukemia to solid tumours.

ViroCell is negotiating with world-leading teaching hospitals and universities to bring more clean
room facilities for the production of viral vectors in UK. The company, an innovation-driven
CDMO, founded in 2020 by the Truell Conservation Foundation and serial biotech entrepreneur,
John W. Hadden II, has market-leading cell and gene therapy expertise and decades of
experience in oncology innovation through its world-class Scientific Advisory Board.

Edmund Truell, chairman of the Truell Conservation Foundation, said “We have been studying the viral vector supply-demand imbalance with great interest. We believe that the shortage of highly specialised design and manufacturing capacity and the UK’s hitherto uncommercial attitude to new vector innovation represents a clear barrier to gene therapy innovation.

Following the remarkable success of the UK Covid vaccine programme and Kate Bingham’s galvanizing call to arms, this imbalance can now be changed for good.”

Truell continued: “Prof. Farzaneh’s leadership in developing and manufacturing viral vectors will build on the excellent genetics research at the Wellcome Sanger Institute; King’s College London and other world-class centres of academic research; and our globally powerful pharmaceutical sector. We are delighted to capitalise and invest in ViroCell to accelerate the novel therapies that ViroCell’s clients are developing by enabling them to enter clinical trials faster and so help millions of patients.”

John W. Hadden II, a longtime colleague of Truell and Farzaneh and Co-Founder of ViroCell, will lead the business as CEO while Prof. Farzaneh will lead vector design as Chief Scientific Officer.

ViroCell Biologics’ mission is to be the design and GMP-compliant viral vector creator of choice for
corporate and academic cell and gene therapy innovators preparing for and in early-stage clinical trials. ViroCell specializes in batch sizes between 1L to 50L. Initially ViroCell will manufacture lentivirus and gamma-retrovirus vectors and gene-modified cells for clients; and will soon add AAV  manufacturing capabilities.


    

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Date Published: 12th May 2021

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Note: This content has been edited by a rapidvirology.com staff writer for style and content.


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