Companies hope to combine their cryogenic expertise with dedicated packaging and supply chain services
More details have emerged from an announcement last January that Cell Matters SA is partnering with Cryoport, a leading vendor of supply chain services for the emerging field of ultra-low temperature-controlled shipping and storage of cellular and gene technologies (CGTs). Cell Matters, based in Liege, Belgium, is addressing a critical step in CGT research and commercialization: the points where biomaterials are gathered from patients or donors, packaged (typically into “leukopaks,” which are bags containing a filtered, concentrated volume of cells) and then shipped to a manufacturing facility or lab. “Our goal is to de-risk these supply chain steps,” says Delphine Connan, CEO of the company.
Cell Matters is about to gain regulatory clearance for its Liege facility to cryogenically refrigerate leukopaks. Two facilities are in the works in the US, in Houston and in New Jersey, and are co-located with Cryoport, which itself has just opened two new regional logistics centers in Houston, Texas and Morris Plains, NJ. All three facilities are expected to be up and running by 2024 or sooner, says Connan.
As things stand today, there is only rudimentary standardization in the leukopak cryopreservation step: some CGT Companies seek to ship the Leukopaks, from the collection center, without cryopreservation, expecting that they will reach their destination within 48 hours maximum, after which cell viability declines. Currently, when the leukopaks are cryopreserved, the methods to do so vary, and can create quality problems. Cell Matters offers to cryopreserve leukopaks in less than 24 hours within the region of their collection centers, cryopreserve them via standardized processes, and store or ship them to meet tight manufacturing timelines (when CGT clinical and commercial products are involved). Thus, Cell Matters offers expertise in cryobiology, cell therapy production, and, together with Cryoport, bio-logistics.
For its part, Cryoport offers global logistics services for CGT materials, making use of its proprietary, dry vapor liquid-nitrogen containers (as well as for shipments at warmer temperatures). “The strategic alliances we are forming, coupled with select acquisitions in services and products, are strengthening our comprehensive supply chain solutions for the life sciences and our capacity to serve the industry’s evolving and growing needs,” said Jerrell Shelton, Cryoport CEO, at the time of the January announcement.