Oxford Biomedica collaborates with Microsoft

Oxford Biomedica

Oxford Biomedica plc, a leading gene and cell therapy group, has entered into a research and development collaboration with Microsoft Research to improve the quality of next generation gene therapy vectors using the cloud and machine learning.

Gene therapy is designed to introduce genetic material into cells to compensate for abnormal genes or to make a beneficial protein. If a mutated gene causes a necessary protein to be faulty or missing, gene therapy may be able to introduce a normal copy of the gene to restore the function of the protein. A carrier called a vector can be genetically engineered to deliver the gene.

The collaboration will explore new ways to increase the yield and improve the purity of Oxford Biomedica’s lentiviral vectors, while further reducing the cost. Oxford Biomedica will contribute large data sets for analysis via the Microsoft Azure intelligent cloud platform. Microsoft, in collaboration with Oxford Biomedica scientists, will use its cloud computing and machine learning capabilities to help advance the next generation of cell and gene delivery technology. The collaboration will run for an initial two-year period and may be extended by either party.

Jason Slingsby, Chief Business Officer of Oxford Biomedica, said: “Our LentiVector gene delivery platform is recognised as a leading solution by major industry players but developing next-generation manufacturing technologies is complex and often involves uncertain outcomes.

“The collaboration with Microsoft Research will harness our rich data resources to offer greater insights into the biological processes required to enhance quality and optimise yields of lentiviral vectors. It builds on our digital framework initiative, established in 2018, and the work underway in our collaboration with Synthace to rapidly and flexibly design, simulate and execute complex experimental designs to develop next generation manufacturing processes, including with stable producer cell lines for lentiviral vectors. Our goal is to enable faster, cheaper and more reliable manufacture of high quality next-generation cell and gene therapies to allow more patients to benefit.”

Andrew Phillips, Head of Biological Computation at Microsoft, said: “Programming biology has the potential to solve some of the world’s toughest problems in medicine, and to lay the foundations for a future bioeconomy based on sustainable technology. Oxford Biomedica is at the cutting edge of cell and gene therapy delivery and their highly sophisticated manufacturing processes generate a vast wealth of valuable data. We anticipate that by combining computational modelling, lab automation, machine learning and the power of the cloud, we can help them in their quest to make existing treatments more cost effective and in future to develop groundbreaking new treatments.”