GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Miltenyi Biotech said they will partner to develop new cell and gene therapies through a collaboration whose value was not disclosed.

The collaboration is designed to combine GSK’s expertise in developing cell- and gene therapy–based treatments with Miltenyi Biotec’s global leadership in cell processing and related technologies in cell therapy, the companies said.

GSK and Miltenyi Biotec agreed to collaborate on defined chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) oncology targets, as well as on the development of advanced technologies that both companies could apply toward cell and gene therapies. 

The collaboration is intended to supplement GSK’s existing CAR-T preclinical portfolio and enhance the pharma giant’s ongoing efforts to build a cell and gene therapy R&D platform toward development of novel therapies in oncology and rare diseases—two of the company’s core research areas.

Miltenyi Biotec will work with GSK to integrate greater automation and high-tech processing technology into GSK’s current cell and gene therapy R&D manufacturing capabilities.

The goal, both companies said, is to use this increased automation to industrialize cell and gene therapy further, overcoming the manufacturing and scale-up constraints associated with current, manually based cell and gene therapy processes.

GSK and Miltenyi reason that their approach could reduce costs and geographical hurdles associated with cell and gene therapies, speed their development, and support their development potential beyond rare diseases and limited populations.

“Working with Miltenyi Biotec, our vision is to transform current technology so that we can expand the possibilities for cell and gene therapy treatment to wider patient populations with broader geographical reach,” Patrick Vallance, GSK’s president of pharmaceuticals R&D, said in a statement.

GSK’s collaboration with Miltenyi Biotec came a day before the company’s announcement today that CEO Sir Andrew Witty intends to retire on March 31, 2017. GSK said its board will conduct a formal search for a successor, considering both internal and external candidates for the position.

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