March 11, 2019

A Unique Bio-Factory is Making Living Cells at the University of Colorado

by Eric Peterson
Colorado Biz

"The Gates Biomanufacturing Facility really came about from a vision from Charlie Gates," Director Ryan Crisman says. The late patriarch of the Gates Corp. family "really saw that regenerative medicine was the next pillar." 

It follows that the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine connected with CU School of Medicine, Children's Hospital Colorado and UCHealth to launch the facility in 2015. Staffed by about 40 employees, the 14,000-square-foot facility "is part of the university, but we can have industry clients," Crisman says. "It's really unique from that standpoint." 

Those clients include pharmaceutical companies and health-care facilities, as well as medical researchers. "Our target is to be 70 percent university products and 30 percent industry products," Crisman says. "We like to have that balance." 

Crisman describes the manufacturing process as "bench to bedside," noting, "We actually make products that are infused into patients." 

CAR T-cells are one area of focus: The patient's own T-cells are altered to fight cancer in their body. "We essentially isolate a patient's T-cells," Crisman says. "We actually genetically modify those so they can go and find cancer cells in a person's blood. We re-infuse them into the patient." 

The facility also produces tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to target solid growths, along with stem and other cells for researchers working in cardiology, dermatology, neurology and ophthalmology. 

Crisman expects 2019 production to easily eclipse the 2018 total of about 150 cell therapy runs. And the facility has plenty of room to grow. 

"We need to start getting our name out there and letting people know we are GMP [Good Manufacturing Practices] facility," he says. "I'm very excited about 2019 and what it has in store."