McKinsey’s new center helps customers build capabilities in cell and gene therapy technology

One from New JerseyThe fastest growing industries are the life sciences. It is now home to some of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies, and now the state is home to our newest digital opportunity center. Dedicated to life sciences with a focus on cell and gene therapies, the center was developed in partnership with the New Jersey Institute of Innovation and is managed by BioCentriq.

McKinsey operates 12 such facilities worldwide. They are exciting learning environments where people can develop new skills by experimenting with digital technologies, exploring new ways of working that will be crucial to success, and planning the transformation of their operations as part of their own. walls and beyond.

Cellular and gene therapies are the next generation treatment for a number of diseases. While traditional medicines often require repeated doses, sometimes with negative side effects, these new therapies are individualized for the patient, offering potentially lasting benefits. In short, cellular and gene therapies restore, alter, or replace cells or genes in the body to prevent, treat, and sometimes cure diseases — some of which were previously incurable. They are often effective in a single dose.

Twenty-three gene therapies have been approved by the FDA with promising results in treating diseases including blood cancer, hemophilia, congenital blindness and spinal muscular atrophy, which is the leading genetic cause of death in infants.

“Five years ago, these treatments were really just ideas tested in very small clinical trials,” said McKinsey partner Katie Kelleher, who co-founded the center with partner Andrea Gennari and a team of experts. “Now they are the fastest growing field in therapy and the industry is starting to commercialize them. But they are very labor-intensive, complex and expensive to produce, and many companies are not ready to do that. ”

This is where the new Digital Opportunity Center can help. “Because life sciences companies everywhere are under pressure to hire talent and grow quickly, while improving quality and reliability,” says Andrea, “we can help them improve people in operational excellence and transform use. technology to enable new productivity highs. “

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Using virtual reality technologies, operators can train people for new procedures without requiring actual equipment or supervisors who can focus on production.

In particular, the new facility simulates the autologous manufacturing process of CAR-T, a therapy used to treat cancer. In it, the cells are removed from a patient to a hospital, transported to a laboratory, where they are purified and modified, and then injected back into the same patient.

“It’s a complex process that has been going on for weeks, requiring highly skilled technicians,” said Emily Simon, McKinsey’s Solutions Manager. “For example, cells must be frozen in liquid nitrogen during transport to provide stasis.” A variety of laboratory demonstrations show how digital technologies can improve efficiency at various points in the process. One use case focuses on how to optimize yields through advanced analyzes that can increase production through more productive cell growth or greater cell viability in the laboratory.

“Hundreds of factors can affect yields,” says Emily. “From the attributes of the raw materials – the serums and buffers that your cells contain – to the health of the patient who produced the cells, to the factors of the process itself: temperature, pH, oxygen level. Predictive modeling with advanced analysis can help laboratory technicians predict potential problems, identify root causes, and identify ideal conditions for growing new replacement cells.

When you see digital technologies come to life, you can really realize their full potential.

A recent visitor to our digital capability center for cell and gene therapy

In another use case, augmented and virtual reality technologies help to train laboratory technicians in basic skills, such as changing cell cultures. They can also be used to provide a refresher course for complex processes, first practicing with a virtual version of the equipment; this allows equipment and operators to stay focused on actual production.

Programs range from half-day seminars for leaders showing “what the future could be” to intensive four-day problem-solving and skills-building classes for teams undertaking a complete transformation.

The center has already received several clients, creating moments of insight and impact that may be realized only in this avant-garde, practical environment. “When you see digital technologies come to life,” said a recent participant, “you can really see their full potential.”

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