Cell and gene therapy

Silicon paving the way for cell and gene therapies

The challenge

Cell and gene therapies are exciting new areas of medicine that are just starting to gain regulatory approval. They cover a wide range of individual treatments from CAR T cell cancer therapies to regenerative medicine for rare genetic diseases and degenerative disorders such as leukemia or Parkinson’s.

Whatever their target, these therapies involve removing and selecting cells from patients and reengineering them, either by modifying their genetic code or growing more of a specific cell type that is lacking in the patient. As such, the starting material for generating these cell therapy products – the patient’s own cells – is extremely variable which brings huge complexity to scalable manufacturing of these products. And of course, contamination of samples must be avoided at all costs.

Imec's offering for cell therapy processing

Imec's expertise in chip fabrication, microfluidics, monolithic integration of photonics, electronics and micro-optics allows you to deliver the controls necessary to meet those challenges. Our IP covers basic building blocks such as a high throughput thermal bubble jet flow cell sorter, lens-free imaging, multiparameter biosensors and single cell electrophysiology microelectrode arrays (MEAs) to design disposable systems that enable fast and accurate cytometry and cell function measurements.

Moreover, the ability to precisely engineer each individual sensor and integrate all these multiparametric sensors on silicon at scale allows you to develop closed solutions for cell therapy processing and quality monitoring that minimize contamination by reducing manual and open-handling steps.

Toolbox for high throughput screening

In addition, our toolbox can be used for high throughput screening. Our droplet microfluidics platform provides a framework for highly parallelized nanoreactors that allow rapid growth of colonies of target cells for screening and selection. Organ-on-chip systems based on microfluidics combined with micro-electrophysiological and lens-free imaging technology, provides us with preclinical test targets that closely mimic the actual patient.

Our strong track record of developing on-chip, miniaturized prototypes for diagnostic and genomic applications, combined with fast acquisition of data and actionable algorithms is being applied in the bioprocessing domain to help companies automate manufacturing processes. This could pave the way to a future where cell engineering happens at the patient’s bedside through disposable bioprocessing labs containing single-chip high-throughput cell inspection and manipulation devices inside dedicated bioreactors for efficient genetic modification, selection and purification of therapeutic cells.

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