How CCRM Australia’s academic and industry partnerships helped an industry innovator connect with academic expertise and resources to deliver commercial-scale cell manufacturing.
Cynata is an Australian company revolutionising cell manufacturing technology.
From an idea in a university lab to an ASX-listed company, Cynata was established to commercialise the proprietary Cymerus™ technology to address critical shortcomings in producing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for therapeutic use.
Cynata and CCRM Australia
Cynata’s relationship with Centre for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) Australia originated with networking and connections through CCRM Canada. Cynata championed the establishment of CCRM Australia through membership of the industry interface committee and a game-changing PhD program.
CCRM Australia’s support of Cynata is a real-world example of industry development encouraging meaningful and productive relationships between industry and academia.
The Cynata journey
Cynata does things a little differently. They’ve challenged the traditional model of Australian tech heading overseas for development on its head — the cell therapy manufacturing technology they’re commercialising originated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The first clinical trial in humans started in 2017 in a rare condition called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which has a mortality rate of around 90% over two years. The trial results were encouraging — of 15 people treated, 13 improved, and eight showed a complete response. The significance of this type of effect is reflected by the Japanese company Fujifilm exercising an option to license the GVHD program.
Cynata’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr Kilian Kelly, said addressing the complexities and challenges of manufacturing these cells at commercial scale has been made simpler by industry connections.
“Nothing new happens in a vacuum — we’ve embraced support from the Australian scientific community to manufacture robust and consistent MSCs in an economically viable process — all under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements.”
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have huge therapeutic potential for a new generation of treatments for diseases like Osteoarthritis, Crohn’s disease and heart disease.
But there’s a critical gap in existing methods of producing MSCs. Cynata is accelerating the commercialisation of MSC therapies worldwide with unique Cymerus™ technology.
Drawing on discoveries at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM), the starting material has unlimited expansion potential — unlimited numbers of cells can be manufactured at commercial scale from a single blood donation.
Partnering to solve real-world problems
Cynata teamed up with CCRM Australia to engage in the CCRM Australia Industry PhD program. This less traditional (for Australia) approach to PhDs is connecting students with solving real-world problems for industry partners.
“The PhD project allows us to look at research questions more deeply. Not only do we have a fantastic student working with us for three years rather than some of the shorter-term specific research projects, but we’re also accessing the broader expertise within the Monash system through her supervisor and collaborators,” said Dr Kelly.
“Cynata operates as a virtual company; we don’t have labs. So if we didn’t have this arrangement with Monash, we’d be trying to outsource via a contract research arrangement – and specialised science and tech capabilities aren’t always easy to find.”
“Our PhD program gives us a direct connection with people who are doing this work. Universities can be complex organisations, and bodies like CCRM Australia are key to bringing industry and academia together. It’s clear that academia has resources and expertise that would be useful for industry and can be underutilised, so making those connections is key to bringing people together to collaborate and innovate.”
Silvio Tiziani, CEO of CCRM Australia, says companies like Cynata are well-positioned to make the most of collaborative opportunities.
“When you’re a member of the global CCRM network, you’re a partner in a leading industry consortium that’s committed to taking research from bench to bedside.”
“Through industry programs, committees or connections made, we’re supporting companies like Cynata to address bottlenecks in translating and commercialising regenerative medicine to treat some of the world’s most devastating diseases.”
Cynata is building new connections to expand its partnership business model — including the deal with Fujifilm, who have a keen interest in regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies.
As Cynata prepares to start a new series of Phase 2 clinical trials in Critical Limb Ischemia, in GvHD through licensee Fujifilm, and will partner the University of Sydney on an NHMRC-funded trial in Osteoarthritis, 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for connection and collaboration.
“CCRM Australia is guiding industry and academia in the right direction,” said Dr Kelly.
“Removing barriers to access clinical trial networks and the right facilities and expertise accelerates commercialisation of therapies that save and change lives.”
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CCRM Australia is an Australian not-for-profit organisation supporting the development of foundational technologies to accelerate the commercialisation of regenerative medicine products and therapies. CCRM Australia’s focus is to bridge the commercialisation gap through a network of scientists, entrepreneurs, academic institutions and industry partners and address bottlenecks in the industry. CCRM Australia is modelled on the highly successful CCRM in Canada and is legally separate to CCRM. As a member of the Global CCRM network, CCRM Australia is a partner to a leading-edge industry consortium. CCRM Australia is supported by MTPConnect and the Victorian State Government.