Kite Pharma and GE Global Research said today they will partner to develop a next-generation, functionally integrated and automated manufacturing system for engineered T-cell therapy.

The value of the alliance was not disclosed, and the companies gave few details on the “resources and relevant expertise” they said they will each contribute to the partnership.

Kite and GE Global Research—GE’s centralized R&D hub—said they aim to increase the availability of engineered T-cell therapies by speeding up development of automation technologies that have the potential to lower costs, operate faster, and minimize variability.

The alliance is designed to combine Kite's expertise in T-cell biology and manufacturing, with GE Global Research's know-how in designing and developing biopharma manufacturing applications.

According to its website, GE Global Research has been working with GE’s Life sciences businesses to develop prototype instrumentation being transitioned to manufacturing, with cell therapy in mind.

“To enable the widespread adoption of cell therapy, industrial solutions are required for cell separation, storage, expansion, harvesting and quality control that can be easily, and reproducibly, scaled. GE scientists are developing new technologies to meet this challenge,” the company stated.

In October, Clive Glover, product leader of GE’s cell therapy technologies division, told Bloomberg News that the company estimates that more than 100,000 patients will have been treated with T-cells designed to fight cancer by 2021—a potential market for new manufacturing equipment.

“This unique partnership further positions us to deliver on the promise of T cell-based cancer immunotherapy for patients worldwide,” Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS, Kite’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “GE Global Research is the ideal partner to realize our vision to advance engineered T-cell manufacturing to a functionally integrated and fully automated process.”

Added Michael Idelchik, vp for advanced technologies at GE Global Research: “Together with Kite, a scientific pioneer in the field, we are focused on advancing innovation, delivering end-to-end manufacturing solutions, and building a robust ecosystem that supports widespread adoption of these important therapies and the industry as a whole.”

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