GenCure ready to begin more lifesaving work in fourth quarter
GenCure is on track to launch a facility that will support development of therapies that could save thousands of lives every year, the organization’s chief operating officer told members of The Blood & Tissue Center Foundation board of directors on Monday, Aug. 12.
Becky Cap said that by the end of 2019, GenCure will be one of the largest producers of its kind in the country, supplying large quantities of critically needed adult mesenchymal stem cells for researchers – and eventually, for patients with conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease to spinal cord injuries.
The GenCure biomanufacturing facility is the anchor tenant in the VelocityTX science incubator center, which is repurposing the abandoned Merchants Ice complex on San Antonio’s east side into a vibrant life science and business community.
“What’s happening at Velocity is a way to extend our mission one step further and tie that back to the patients that we have always served,” Cap said.
In addition to remodeling a warehouse-sized building, the biomanufacturing center will need to have 127 pieces of equipment processed and 11 tractor-trailer-sized clean room pods installed inside the facility, Cap said. The pods are being built by College Station-based G-Con Manufacturing and are scheduled for delivery in September.
“We’re bringing the pods down from College Station and stage them for installation in the parking lot at the Alamodome,” she said. “We will then bring them into the facility and install the equipment.”
The facility will employ a series of bioreactors to grow donated adult stem cells on a clinical scale. The bioreactors, with a capacity of 80 liters per manufacturing run, make GenCure among the first contract manufacturers to have that capability.
Cap said many of the patients who could be treated with new stem cell therapies are those already served by the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, which like GenCure is a subsidiary of BioBridge Global. The largest percentage of blood transfusions go to cancer patients, and more than 60 percent of the research into stem cell therapies involves potential cancer treatments.
“BioBridge Global is finding new and better ways to serve patients, whether it’s innovation for our blood processing team or what we’re doing with other cells and tissue,” she said.
“This may not be as heartwarming as some of our stories you hear, but it’s critically important the work that we’re doing is supporting the therapies that are being developed for all these conditions and getting them to the patients who need them.”