Professor Sally Ann Cryan
Professor of Pharmaceutics and Research Lead in the School of Pharmacy,
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Professor Caitriona O’Driscoll
Professor and Chair of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, University College Cork
Demand for better research and development of gene-based therapies is leading to calls for greater collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and research centres. This requires a multidisciplinary approach.
According to pharmaceutical sector research, the global gene therapy market is expected to be valued at $15 billion by 2030. Research centres are seeking collaborative research projects with industry for cell and gene therapy delivery systems.
Gene therapy research and Bioengineering
AMBER (The SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) is a world leading centre in materials and bioengineering science. The Centre works with large and small businesses, and their research ranges from curiosity-driven research to more applied, close-to-the-market programmes.
Sally Ann Cryan is Professor of Pharmaceutics and Research Lead in the School of Pharmacy at RCSI— one of the higher education institutions that is part of AMBER.
Professor Cryan says: “We’ve worked with a whole range of therapeutics — and the world is familiar with Covid-19 vaccines. Our two big areas are respiratory and regenerative medicine. There’s a really big emphasis on bioengineering and tissue engineering. We don’t just look at gene therapies; we also look at their integration into bigger tissue engineer structures. We work closely with clinical and surgical groups on the application of new, advanced therapies.”
We work closely with clinical and surgical groups
on the application of new, advanced therapies.
Expanding capability to target various diseases
Caitriona O’Driscoll, Professor of Pharmaceutics at University College Cork, says: “There are exciting opportunities to target non-infectious diseases including chronic diseases like cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Pharma companies are aware of the potential of these innovative medicines and are interested in collaboration in the area.”
AMBER laboratories have a track record in the synthesis of non-viral materials and have the capacity to formulate and characterise them — and engage in pre-clinical testing. AMBER’s collaboration with NIBRT (National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training) expands expertise to include scale-up and bioprocessing capability.
Working with industry to meet therapy needs
Professor Cryan adds that: “It’s a two-way street. We have scientists with experience in investigating both cell and gene therapies, and we want to move what we are developing closer to clinics. Sometimes, industry can be wonderful partners in that process.”
“On the other side of the coin, we are hearing from industry about an unmet need for better materials for delivery of gene-based therapeutics; and in parallel, a real unmet need for biomanufacturing. With joined-up, multidisciplinary research, we can address these unmet needs and deliver more advanced therapies.”