Product development and commercialization: biotechin.asia and Stemcell Technologies event

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This article is summrizing a talk organized by biotechin.asia and Stemcell Technologies at ACE Ideation Centre, Singapore on Product development and commercialization (12th January 2016).

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In the field of applied research and especially biotechnology, one of the key drivers is the realization of one’s work into a viable product with real world usability (the definition of which can vary depending upon their application). In this exponential era where this is constant emergence of disruptive technologies, product development and commercialization are key drivers in the evolution of a concept into a successful working prototype.

Dr Andy Kokaji, the Team lead and Senior Scientist at the cell separation and adaptive immunology R&D team at Stemcell Technologies delivered a talk on product development cycles citing examples with the launch of two major products among others.

The product development cycle can either be initiated by a technology push or a market pull. ‘Technology push’ occurs when there is a technology already available and the developers start looking for new avenues to apply the technology to enhance usability of the product. ‘Market pull’ occurs when there is a clear demand for a solution from the end customers and then based on these demands the product development life cycle begins with the conception of an idea, investigation on the hypothesis, creation of a proof of concept, creation of a working prototype, pilot testing, and production.

Each of these steps will have to be carried out by comparing with the available prior art and bench-marking your idea against it as the gold standard. He explained that the key steps in the product development are to clearly identify the need and reduce the uncertainty associated with licensing. The product by itself needs to be stable, scalable and most importantly simple and easy to use. He explained these concepts under the context of CAR-T cell therapy in cancer patients where patients’ own T cells are edited expanded and re-introduced to target and treat their cancers. Recent news on CAR-T cells can be found here. He explained the development of a proprietary method they use to streamline T cell research identify and isolate CAR-T cells using magnetic separation technology, further activate and expand them ex vivo ImmunocultTM.

Workflow for CAR-T cells – Providing specific solutions in the therapeutic development

The question and answer session was equally enriching as the talk. The audience were very interactive and they inquired and understood how these CAR-T solutions are being implemented, how far we are from the CAR-T therapies being implemented in clinics, and how long are the product development cycles. He explained that depending upon the nature of the product, the development life cycles are much shorter in cell reagent-based companies if one were to compare it to traditional pharmaceutical companies which deal with drug discovery processes.

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The organizers and speaker (L to R-Dunstan, Jeremy, Jacqueline, Andy, Laxmi, Sandhya)

In summary, it was an interesting and insightful talk where the various aspects of product development was explained with real product examples which put the whole process in perspective and gave the audience valuable tips to follow in their own research and development aspirations.