Representative Subtheme Challenge:

HH-05: Cell Therapies

Imagine a future where routine visits to the doctor include a quick, non-invasive cell therapy treatment that rejuvenates your body's own natural defenses against age-related ailments or treats a diagnosed chronic disease. This future, driven by breakthroughs in cell therapy, harnesses the power of modified cells to enhance organ function, slow aging processes, boost overall vitality, or treat disease. The development of these therapies, born from a blend of cellular biology and advanced biomanufacturing, has radically transformed public health. Economically, it has spurred job growth in new biotech fields, positioning the U.S. at the forefront of medical innovation. This reality, once a distant dream, is now an integral part of healthcare, thanks to sustained investment in biotechnological research, demonstrating the profound capabilities of the bioeconomy in enhancing and prolonging human life.

Cell therapies, especially in cancer treatment like CAR-T cell therapies, present a vast untapped potential but face significant challenges in basic science, cell sourcing, manufacturing, and in vivo performance control. The sector grapples with high costs for autologous (personalized) therapies, challenges in reproducibility of treatments, and stringent requirements for robust, scalable manufacturing platforms. Addressing these challenges could improve the range of conditions for which cell therapies could be routinely applied.

CASA-Bio stakeholders representing government, industry, and non-profit sectors, identified areas of mutual interest where concerted effort among them may lead more quickly to the realization of the envisioned future. These are a few of their ideas. Focus areas include developing new manufacturing paradigms, enhancing diagnostics for patient selection, exploring new cell therapy avenues (like microbiome/edible therapies), and overcoming immunological and cell sourcing challenges. Regulatory science advancement and standardization are also critical to encourage innovation. We emphasize that this list is not comprehensive; we need you to help us think deeper within this subtheme!

As a member of the R&D community, you too are a CASA-Bio stakeholder, and providing your insight on R&D projects that undergird this sub-theme and lead to solutions is critical. Your ideas will matter! Your individual project ideas and those developed as part of the collaborative Town Hall process will be combined to produce an aggregate view. This view will help us understand not only the interests of the R&D community, but also what they are willing to do to advance the bioeconomy. Topics among the R&D project ideas we receive will help government, industry, and non-profit stakeholders see the potential of the US R&D community to address critical future needs and help define topics for future exploration through workshops and roadmapping.

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CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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