New National Facility Boosts Singapore’s Cell and Gene Therapy Capabilities

September 2023

The Advanced Cell Therapy and Research Institute, Singapore (ACTRIS) announced the opening of a new 2,000 sqm cell therapy facility to meet the increasing clinical demand for cell and gene therapy (CGT) treatments in Singapore.

The facility comprises 14 Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant (GMP) clean suites, four translational laboratories and one quality control laboratory – the largest national facility of its kind, which will support hospital services, academic institutions for research, and biotech start-ups.

Its advanced equipment can support end-to-end cell therapy process development and manufacturing steps such as cell selection, genetic modification, closed-system manufacturing and product storage. The facility’s advanced infrastructure, such as its air-handling systems, allows ACTRIS to manufacture different cell therapy products concurrently, speeding up patient access to these novel treatments.

In Singapore, it is expected that 1 in 4 Singaporeans will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 75. CGT has come to the fore as a possible treatment option for certain forms of blood cancer. Advances in CGT research have now opened up new ways to treat cancer with cells, dubbed as “living drugs”.

One such class of products available in Singapore is the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell which uses patients’ immune cells to target specific cancer cells. Patients who are undergoing CAR-T therapy would first have their immune cells collected in hospitals; these live cells would then be transported to a GMP-compliant facility – one such as the ACTRIS facility – where they undergo various stages of processing.

These include genetic modification that increases the potency of the patient’s T-cells to fight cancers; cell expansion to increase the numbers of these T-cells; and a final step of quality testing that will ensure the best quality product for patients. These steps will need to be conducted in a highly controlled and clean GMP environment. Thereafter, the modified cells would then be transported back to hospitals and administered to the patient.

At the launch ceremony, ACTRIS also announced a joint grant call with the National Health Innovation Centre Singapore (NHIC) to accelerate the adoption of cell therapies in our local hospitals to enhance healthcare delivery and patient care. Eligible projects will receive funding and support to foster the development of cell therapy products.

(Source: Consortium for Clinical Research and Innovation, Singapore – CRIS)

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