“What we need is a revolution in medicine, a new set of sophisticated interventions that can help these most difficult medical problems. We need to move from small molecules and biologics, highly targeted drugs, to a new generation of intelligent therapies. Drugs that can interact with their environment: cell therapies.”
CEO bit.bio, TEDxCambridgeUniversity March 2021
One of the biggest hurdles in human cell research is a supply of human cells. It’s the same problem that the mass manufacture of cell therapies faces. Current methods are not sufficient to produce a reliable, scalable and consistent supply of cells without the need to rely on a patient. The lack of a reliable source of human cells also holds back scientific discovery and the development of more traditional drugs. To make cells available for everyone and to be able to treat other conditions, Mark’s team developed opti-ox™ to manufacture cells at industrial scale. opti-ox is a synthetic biology approach that empowers control of biology. Applied to stem cells, it enables the rapid and precise production of any human cell through the reprogramming of the cell’s DNA. This approach unlocks the potential of human cells for research, drug discovery and cell therapy.
“We designed a system that relies on a direct intervention at the DNA level – engineering a program into what are called safe harbor sites of the cell. These are special areas in the DNA that are somehow protected. These sites allow safe activation of genes and that do not interfere with the rest of the cell functions.”
Dr Kotter concludes the speech with bringing hope to patients that one day, he will be able to inject some cells into their spinal cords, and perhaps connect them to an electronic device in order to make them walk again and give them back the use of their hands.
Watch the full featured talk on YouTube.