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CAMP IRG research highlights

Advancing Cell Therapy: SMART CAMP’s Contributions to Personalized Medicine


In the dynamic landscape of modern medicine, cell therapies have emerged as a beacon of hope in the treatment of previously incurable diseases. As the global healthcare community witnesses unprecedented advancements in regenerative medicine and immunotherapy, the role of living cells as therapeutic agents has become increasingly prominent.


Anticipating the transformative potential of personalised medicine, SMART CAMP stands at the forefront of this medical revolution. With the mission to harness the power of cell therapy for personalised treatment, CAMP envisions a future where such tailored therapies are not just a possibility but a standard, with a dedicated workforce contributing to the manufacturing industry and clinics.


Through collaborative efforts with other scientific and medical institutions as well as other industry partners, CAMP is not just contributing to the field of medicine but is also shaping the future of healthcare.



(L-R) Nicholas Tan, lead author and research engineer at SMART, and Kerwin Kwek, co-author and senior research scientist at SMART, co-developed the sorting technology and its prototype (Photo: SMART CAMP)


Through the collaboration of CAMP’s researchers with A*STAR BTI, NUHS, and SCELSE, this method enables the extraction of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) directly from bone marrow aspirates (BMA). Utilising a novel Deterministic Lateral Displacement (DLD) microfluidic platform, it doubles the quantity of MSCs while reducing extraction time to a mere 20 minutes.


The implications of this advancement are profound — it enhances efficiency, improves patient comfort, and makes advanced medical treatments more accessible for conditions such as treatment for osteoarthritis, autoimmune and infectious diseases, and neurological disorders. The label-free cell sorting approach eliminates the need for expensive reagents and complex processes, streamlining the entire extraction process and enhancing efficiency in cell therapy manufacturing. Ongoing research is focused on further enhancing the technology, evaluating MSC quality, and optimising the sorting speed and resolution.



Dr James Strutt, Senior Postdoctoral Associate at SMART CAMP, operating the Oxford Nanopore GridION long read sequencer (Photo: SMART CAMP)


In parallel, CAMP researchers also collaborated with SCELSE and MIT to pioneer a contamination-detection method enhancing the safety of T-cell therapy manufacturing. 


Traditionally, identifying contaminants in T-cell cultures could take up to 14 days, posing significant challenges in terms of efficiency and safety. However, through the utilisation of long-read nanopore sequencing and machine learning, this new method can swiftly identify contaminants within just 24 hours, expediting product validation processes and improving overall efficiency. This breakthrough addresses a critical aspect of cell therapy manufacturing, ensuring the safety and reliability of products like chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CAR-T).


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These endeavours and achievements by SMART CAMP in 2023 exemplify the transformative impact of interdisciplinary approaches. Aspiring to greatly improve patient outcomes and open up new avenues of treatment for various medical conditions, CAMP will continue to work towards and pave the way for faster, safer, and more accessible cell therapies.


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