Researchers at MIT’s Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Draper Laboratory – a not-for-profit research and development company focused on development of technical solutions for health, energy, national security and space – have recently announced the development of microfluidic platforms to accelerate the manufacturing of CAR-T therapies.
The current focus is on two platforms: one for enrichment of T cells, and the other for gene transfer to generate the CAR-engineered cell.
In Draper’s device, T cell enrichment is carried out using ultrasonic (acoustic) energy to promote cell separation by focusing target cells (lymphocytes) to outlets separate from other, non-enriched, blood cells. In acoustic-driven separation, cells are separated based on shape, size and compressibility, among other characteristics. It is attractive as it is biocompatible, safe, and retains the viability, functionality, and gene expression of separated cells.
One of the attractive features of Draper’s device is the potential for scale up, critical for cel therapy manufacturing. The microfluidic devices are cheap and disposable and made from economical thermoplastic materials.
The second device focused on the gene transfer process, which is based on viral carriers to deliver genetic material to T cells.
The transfer process is based on the temporary disruption in the geometry of the cells through control of microchannel geometry (width and height) to introduce constrictions which increase the contact time between the vector and the cells, thereby leading to the need for significantly less vector and, ultimately, a more efficient transduction. The current device has been tested for use with lentiviruses and Draper has reported 60% less vector than traditional viral gene transfer processes.
For more information on these platforms, visit Draper’s website.