GE Ventures, Mayo Clinic found cell and gene therapy software startup

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GE Ventures and Mayo Clinic are pooling their resources to create Vitruvian Networks, a standalone company that is aiming to use software to support the scale up of cell and gene therapy production. If successful, Vitruvian could help personalized therapies transition from being highly-promising but experimental treatments and into profitable commercial products.

The founding of Vitruvian is a reflection of the question marks that hang over the likelihood of such a smooth transition today, doubts that date back to the issues Dendreon faced when trying to lower the cost producing its cell therapy Provenge. As Vitruvian sees it, the process of making a cell or gene therapy, which entails taking a sample from a patient, processing it and readministering the resulting product back into the same individual, still faces scalability bottlenecks.

“Cell therapy today is mostly a very localized process taking place in a single hospital. Things will need to change when these therapies are commercially approved and need to scale,” Heidi Hagen, head of global operations at Vitruvian, told GE’s in-house news publication, GE Reports. Hagen thinks Vitruvian is the company to facilitate this change. “Our software provides secure and digital transparency throughout the entire process,” she said.

The idea is to use software to coordinate the logistics, manufacturing and other aspects of cell and gene therapy production. Instead of nurses setting up appointments by phone, Vitruvian’s system will oversee this and other steps in the process, theoretically resulting in a model that eliminates manual and inefficient aspects of creating cell and gene therapies. “We use software to arrange different players, including hospitals, blood banks, couriers and therapy manufacturers,” Hagen said.

Vitruvian will tap into software and industrial internet knowledge GE has built up from working in other industries, such as the tools it uses to optimize power plants. The company will also benefit from the experience of GE Healthcare’s cell therapy unit and the data Mayo Clinic has collected on biomarkers, processes and outcomes. Vitruvian is bringing these capabilities to Sean Parker’s $250 million immuno-oncology project as one of more than 30 partners involved in the initiative.

- read GE Reportsarticle

- here’s FiercePharma’s take

- and FierceBiotech’s Parker coverage