Carlsbad-based Curate Biosciences has launched its first commercial product – Curate Cell Processing System – a first-of its-kind microfluidic system that produces better starting materials for CAR-T cancer therapies and other cell therapies.
The process recovers about 90% of white blood cells while eliminating more than 90% of red cells and 99% of platelets from patient-sourced blood. Current cell isolation methods used in cell therapy production require physical forces and chemical reagents that lose on average 30-40% of patient-donated white blood cells, on average. The Curate system gives manufacturers an ease of workflow that improves cell purity, reduces time and lowers the cost of cell therapies.
“The Curate System’s entry into the market promises to transform approaches to making a cell therapy, by delivering near-complete recovery of white blood cells with second-to-none purity and increased patient sample-to-sample consistency,” said Curate Biosciences CEO David Backer. “New customers will discover what our early-access biopharma and academic partners have already seen: our microfluidic approach outperforms today’s standard methods.”
Curate officially launched the system at an event in Miami on Jan. 17, following a successful technology access program involving biopharmaceutical companies, CDMOs, academic institutes and other potential customers. Backer said the launch day event further proved industry interest in the new technology.
“I came in with realistic expectations; any time you have a brand-new technology in a highly regulated environment it’s hard to get people excited – but people were excited,” he said. “The number of customers that we’re talking to, feeding out of just this last week, it’s been very satisfying.”
New Lead Character
If the launch of Curate Cell Processing System is the company’s newest chapter, then Backer is its new lead character. He was brought on in December to lead Curate in its commercialization phase, replacing company founder Mike Grisham who is now serving as Curate’s chairman of the board.
“David’s commercial experience and alignment with our vision is the perfect fit for us as Curate goes to market,” Grisham said. “His deep knowledge of the cell and gene therapy space will help us position our game-changing technology to help advance an industry with so much potential to help the patients most in need.”
Backer’s experience leading biotech companies is long and worldwide. He most recently served as chief commercial officer at Oxford Biomedica, and prior to that, was senior vice president of commercial development at cell and gene therapy-enabling tech company ElevateBio.
Backer also founded the Carlsbad-based Molecular Medicine BioServices, which he later successfully sold to Sigma-Aldrich’s SAFC division. That led him to an extensive career at Sigma-Aldrich SAFC and MilliporeSigma, ultimately serving as head of commercial development for gene editing and novel modalities.
“I am really happy to have an opportunity to be part of a company that is again based here in Carlsbad and do what I did before, which is look at a technology that’s new and exciting and then grow it locally,” Backer said.
Depending on the “ramp and traction” Curate sees in the coming year, Backer said, the company has plans to scale up its hiring in marketing and manufacturing and expand its office and production footprint.
The company is also looking ahead to other uses for its microfluidics platform beyond CAR-T therapies and plans on investing in its laboratories. “We have a good idea of what version two looks like already,” he said. “To move on to what the next thing is, we need good strong scientists, developers and engineers to develop some of those other applications. Microfluidics as a technology is a great baseline – it’s really how you use it that is going to be interesting.”
Backer added that Curate has already received positive feedback and interest from a “variety of customers” that include the “expected cell therapy manufacturers” but also includes “interest from other places – innovators, blood collection centers, lots of different folks.”
CEO: David Backer
Business: Developer of processing system that enables cell therapy
Notable: The Curate Cell Processing Platform can reach a cell purity over 90%.