Breaking the Cell Therapy Bottleneck: Can Robots Provide a Solution?

In the quest to address the bottleneck in cell therapy, a partnership between a cell engineering platform startup and a modular robotics maker offers a promising solution. Portal Biotechnologies, under the leadership of former SQZ Biotech CEO Armon Sharei, has developed a platform for mechanoporation, a process that mechanically disrupts cells to allow cargo such as genetic material to enter. This innovative approach simplifies the cell therapy process but still requires skilled labor, presenting challenges in terms of cost and time.

To address these challenges, Portal Biotechnologies has teamed up with Multiply Labs, a robotics company specializing in modular robotics systems. Multiply’s system can complete complex tasks with precision and efficiency, potentially reducing cell therapy manufacturing costs by up to 70%. Fred Parietti, CEO of Multiply, emphasizes the importance of automation in making cell therapy feasible on a large scale, stating that relying on highly skilled labor is unsustainable.

The collaboration aims to create a cartridge for genetic engineering that combines Portal’s cell-busting technology with Multiply’s automated robotic laboratories. By integrating mechanoporation technology with robotics, the partnership seeks to streamline the cell therapy manufacturing process, making it less labor-intensive and more scalable. This approach could revolutionize the production of cell therapies, paving the way for a new generation of therapeutics that are both effective and cost-efficient.

Sharei and Parietti envision a future where cell therapy manufacturing becomes less cumbersome and more accessible. They believe that automation is essential for overcoming the bottleneck in cell therapy and making these life-saving treatments more widely available. By combining their respective platforms, Portal and Multiply aim to offer cell therapy developers a comprehensive solution that addresses the challenges of manufacturing complex therapies. As they prepare to launch a pilot commercial application next year, the companies are focused on building credibility and establishing themselves as key players in the field of cell therapy manufacturing.

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