Xcell Biosciences added new elements to its research collaboration agreement with Labcorp, which will now participate in the beta program for Xcellbio’s clinical manufacturing line of AVATAR™ instruments and has been given an observer seat on the company’s board of directors.

In exchange, Labcorp has increased its strategic investment in Xcellbio. Financial details of the investment were not disclosed. The companies will be jointly presenting results from their existing cell and gene therapy collaboration at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) next week in San Diego.

Xcellbio has developed the AVATAR incubator system for cell therapy R&D. Its latest platform, the AVATAR Foundry system is a cGMP cell therapy manufacturing platform that delivers novel capabilities for improving the potency of cell therapies, especially for those targeting solid tumors, according to a spokesperson at Xcellbio.

Small-scale research and process development

The AVATAR and AVATAR Foundry systems offer small-scale research and process development as well as scale-up manufacturing platforms for metabolically reprogramming therapeutic cells to improve their potency and persistence in the tumor microenvironment (TME), noted Brian Feth, co-founder and CEO at Xcellbio.

“We have worked closely with the Xcellbio team for years and have been continually impressed by their dedication to improving the development and manufacture of cell and gene therapies,” added Maryland Franklin, PhD, vice president and enterprise head of cell and gene therapy at Labcorp.

“Incorporating AVATAR technology into Labcorp’s robust cell and gene therapy development program will allow us to deliver decision-enabling results to our clients around the world and, ultimately, will help us drive precision healthcare for a broad range of patients.”

Through the expanded collaboration, Labcorp’s preclinical oncology site in Ann Arbor, MI, will become a beta site for the AVATAR Foundry system. More information about the beta access program is available at https://www.xcellbio.com/gmp.

“We are proud to be a trusted partner for Labcorp, who recognizes that key partnerships will help unlock what’s possible in the development of cell and gene therapies,” said Feth. “We look forward to deepening our ties as we continue on our shared mission of developing safer, more effective treatments for more patients and a wide array of diseases.”

Along with scientific collaborators at Labcorp, Xcell team members will be presenting recent research findings at the upcoming AACR annual meeting, taking place April 5–10 in San Diego.

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