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NSW Health Funds Indee Labs' First Preclinical Study Into Gene-Modified Cell Therapy Manufacturing for Blood Cancer


This preclinical study will pave the way for biopharmaceutical
companies to transition away from using viruses. The aim is to enable
gene-modified cell therapy manufacturing with open source biology to
provide patients with improved access to curative therapies for blood

The NSW Medical Device Fund has awarded AUD$500,000 to Indee Labs to
partner with the University of Sydney to trial its technology to
manufacture curative therapeutics for blood cancer.

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Visual concept for the Indee Labs' instrument currently in development for the efficient delivery of ...

Visual concept for the Indee Labs' instrument currently in development for the efficient delivery of genes into cells in the manufacturing of gene-modified cell therapies Credit: Design+Industry (

The use of viruses is a major roadblock in progressing gene-modified
cell therapies past regulatory approvals because it increases the cost
and complexity of producing the treatments. Simplification using the
method proposed by Indee Labs could make the whole process quicker,
cheaper and more widely accessible.

Announced recently by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard MP, the NSW
Medical Device funding means the partners can progress a technology
allowing cells to be altered or ‘transfected' at scale for use in
gene-modified cell therapies.

"The problem we are addressing is that current gene therapies are too
slow and expensive to make, and manufacturing isn't scalable to meet
even a small fraction of global demand," says Indee Labs Australia chief
executive, Dr Warren McKenzie.

Instead of using viruses to transport genetic material into cells, the
company employs a microfluidic chip to gently and mechanically disrupt a
cell membrane allowing genetic material such as mRNA
into T cells

It has already demonstrated this with human white blood cells or T
cells, and lab tests show it is faster, safer and more scalable than
competing technologies, such as viruses or ‘electroporation', which
involves delivering an electric shock to a cell to punch a hole in its

The partners will use the funds to compare Indee Labs' technology with
the electroporation gene delivery method for future use in clinical
trials led by Dr David Gottlieb, Professor in Medicine at the University
of Sydney and Westmead Institute for Medical Research.

"We are very optimistic the Indee Labs method will allow us to rapidly
roll out locally manufactured gene-modified T cells to Australian
patients with blood cancers," said Professor Gottlieb. "If that is
successful, the method will put us in a great position to apply the
technology to a wide group of cancer sufferers."

About Indee Labs

Indee Labs is developing hardware for gene delivery using
microfluidic vortex shedding (µVS).

Gene delivery to cells is the most critical and problematic step in
developing and manufacturing gene-modified cell therapies (GMCTs). GMCTs
represent the most promising platform for many patients suffering from
diseases such as cancer or genetic disorders, where traditional forms of
medicine fail. Indee Labs is backed by investors in both Australia (Main
Sequence Ventures) and the United States (Y Combinator, Social+Capital
and Founders Fund).

Indee Labs would like to hear from biotechnology and pharmaceutical
companies developing gene therapies interested in trialing gene delivery
based on µVS.

Professor David Gottlieb

David Gottlieb is Professor of Haematology at the University of Sydney
and is Head of Cell Therapies and Director of the Blood and Marrow
Transplant Program at Westmead Hospital. His major research interest is
in cellular therapy centered around reconstruction of immunity following
immunosuppressive therapy and stem cell transplantation with a
particular emphasis on viral and anti-tumor immunity.

Dr Warren McKenzie

Dr Warren McKenzie is Director and CEO of Indee Labs in Australia. He is
an engineer specializing in micro and nanotechnology, an entrepreneur,
company director, mentor and Endeavour Fellow. He holds a BE in
Materials Science, PhD in Nanotechnology and Master of Commerce. He is a
conjoint academic at UNSW Materials and a Certified Materials
Practitioner in the Australian Institute of Materials Engineers.

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