Oxford Biomedica announces R&D collaboration with Microsoft to improve gene and cell therapy manufacturing using the intelligent cloud and machine learning

Oxford, UK – 12 March 2019: Oxford Biomedica plc (LSE:OXB), a leading gene and cell therapy group, today announces that it has entered into a research and development collaboration with Microsoft Research to improve the yield and quality of next generation gene therapy vectors using the cloud and machine learning.

Cell and gene therapy has the potential to transform medicine, providing long-term and potentially curative treatment options for a wide range of diseases. The first products are already approved and available for patients however, with the increase in demand for these innovative therapies comes manufacturing challenges for the delivery systems that enable them.

The collaboration will combine the expertise of Oxford Biomedica researchers in cutting edge vector development and large scale manufacture and the team within the Station B initiative at Microsoft to explore new ways to increase the yield and improve the purity of Oxford Biomedica’s lentiviral vectors, while further reducing the cost. Oxford Biomedica will contribute large data sets for analysis via the Microsoft Azure intelligent cloud platform. Microsoft, in collaboration with Oxford Biomedica scientists, will utilise its cloud computing and machine learning capabilities to develop in silico models and novel algorithms to help advance the next generation of cell and gene delivery technology. The collaboration will run for an initial two-year period and may be extended by either party.

Jason Slingsby, Chief Business Officer of Oxford Biomedica, said: “Our LentiVector® gene delivery platform is recognised as a leading solution by major industry players but developing next-generation manufacturing technologies is complex and often involves uncertain outcomes.

“The collaboration with Microsoft Research will harness our rich data resources to offer greater insights into the biological processes required to enhance quality and optimise yields of lentiviral vectors. It builds on our digital framework initiative, established in 2018, and the work underway in our collaboration with Synthace to rapidly and flexibly design, simulate and execute complex experimental designs to develop next generation manufacturing processes, including with stable producer cell lines for lentiviral vectors. Our goal is to enable faster, cheaper and more reliable manufacture of high quality next-generation cell and gene therapies to allow more patients to benefit.”

Andrew Phillips, Head of Biological Computation at Microsoft, said: “Programming biology has the potential to solve some of the world’s toughest problems in medicine, and to lay the foundations for a future bioeconomy based on sustainable technology. Oxford Biomedica is at the cutting edge of cell and gene therapy delivery and their highly sophisticated manufacturing processes generate a vast wealth of valuable data. We anticipate that by combining computational modelling, lab automation, machine learning and the power of the cloud, we can help them in their quest to make existing treatments more cost effective and in future to develop groundbreaking new treatments.

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