Thursday 07 October saw the successful launch of Advanced Therapies Integrates 2021. Hosted by Life Science Integrates (LSI) in partnership with The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, the live online event brought together over 70 speakers and 400 attendees including pharma innovators, regulators, academics, and government funding bodies, all with unique expertise surrounding Advanced Therapies. With 14 interactive panel discussions and opportunities for networking, the event provided a forum to share knowledge, ask questions and gain invaluable industry insights.

LSI were delighted to welcome Sharon Brownlow, Chief Business Officer at the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult, to open the conference. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult is an independent centre of excellence in innovation, established to advance the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry, by bridging the gap between scientific research and full-scale commercialisation. With a strong academic background and extensive experience in biotechnology, Sharon has played a pivotal role in growing and securing funding for the CGT Catapult Stevenage Manufacturing Innovation Centre, and her opening remarks were appreciated by all attendees.

With core themes of trending technology, novel networks & finance, and produce and use, the panel discussions addressed all angles of this rapidly advancing field, asking questions such as how best can we finance ATMP developers, what are the best strategies to securing regulatory approval, and do we have the right skills & capabilities in place for future growth?

On the theme of trending technology, Martino Picardo, Discovery Park, led a conversation on the challenges involved in getting to market, highlighting the importance of early consultation with regulators, ensuring product affordability, and the need for a government-supported infrastructure. ‘To make products successful, we need to consider risk’, stated Kate Coleman, PharmaLex. James Strachan, The Cell + Gene Curator, facilitated a discussion on translating Britain’s extraordinary talent in the life sciences into Advanced Therapies. Panellist highlighted the importance of schools, universities and apprenticeships, and the value of up-skilling and broad recruitment, with Nick Stephens, The RSA Group, advising to “organise your business not around a place, but around a group of people and purpose.”

Covering novel networks & finance, Steve McConchie, Aptus Clinical, facilitated an excellent discussion on the relationship between developers, regulators, payers, providers and patients which stemmed conversation regarding the value of ATMPs: ‘value means keeping patients safe – keeping patients in remission, out of hospital, with a good quality of life,’ responded Clare Hague, Janssen. Sally Ann Forsyth, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, led a conversation about investment and infrastructure – all panellists noted that Advanced Therapies require a more innovative pipeline than standard pharma, highlighting the need for an ecosystem of operations from all stakeholders to rapidly translate ATMPs from concept to clinic. Strategies to address the global talent gap were debated in a discussion facilitated by James Strachan, The Cell + Gene Curator, with Claire Thompson, Agility Life Sciences, commenting that ‘the funding needs to be consolidated and ringfenced to make sure we can recruit, reward, retain and re-train the talent of the future.’

Regarding produce and use, Sharon Brownlow led a talk on supply chains, to which Robert Jones, Cryoport Systems, highlighted the need for the industry to evolve, commenting ‘it has to be a fully collaborative and integrated approach – it’s a new paradigm and we have to build it on the go’. James Gregory, The RSA Group, headed a discussion on developing skills for the future, with Kevin Bruce, Roslin Cell Therapies, suggesting the skill gap can be seen as a growth opportunity, and Lucy Foley, CPI, highlighting the importance of attitude, ambition, drive and empathy in developing future leaders. The technologies of the future were discussed in a session led by Jason Foster, Ori Biotech, in which the panel drew parallels with how regulatory bodies moved swiftly to address manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines before they were approved – a process that could be integrated into more streamlined future regulatory procedures.

These are just some of the expert discussions from the event, supplemented by opportunities to network and form valuable connections and future partnerships. Sharon concluded the event by remarking on the insights gained throughout the day. LSI re-iterate Sharon in thanking all the speakers, partners, sponsors and attendees, and look forward to next year’s in-person Advanced Therapies Integrates event. Recordings from the event will be available online, and for more insights into cutting edge drug-development and pharmaceuticals, don’t forget to register for Pharma Integrates on 16 November.