Cell and Tissue Therapies WA

Cell and Tissue Therapies WA – changing lives with cancer research  

Thanks to the generous gift left by the late Verena Vonesch in her Will, RPH Research Foundation is funding a groundbreaking research project at the Cell and Tissue Therapies WA (CTTWA).  Cell and Tissue Therapies Western Australia (CTTWA) facility at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH)is a clinical service facility and an advanced therapies manufacturing centre of excellence. The Facility was originally built thanks to an extraordinary gift from Ray Dobney in memory of his brother Bill who passed from Leukemia.  Cell and gene therapies taking place at CTTWA are increasingly used to treat incurable diseases, including cancer.

The recent gift in memory of Felix Viktor and Verena Vonesch has helped purchase equipment that will be used to provide CAR T-cell therapy for patients with cancer. This equipment will be used by Dr Zlatibor Velickovic who leads CTTWA to enhance outcomes for patients with cancer.  

One of the most promising breakthroughs in cancer treatment is CAR T-cell therapy that offers a way to arm patient’s own immune system to attack cancerous cells. To undertake this therapy, T-cells are collected from the patient's blood, genetically modified to express CARs that specifically target cancer cells. CAR T-cells are multiplied and evaluated for safety in specialised facilities such as CTTWA using specialised equipment before being reintroduced into the patient's body to seek out and destroy cancer cells. This novel treatment has shown an extraordinary response rate (above 80%) in patients with Leukemia.

Cell and Tissue Therapies Western Australia (CTTWA) at Royal Perth Hospital has developed an infrastructure of highly skilled staff operating a specialised and effective Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility for manufacturing cell, tissue and gene therapies. CTTWA aims to develop a “place of care” manufacturing of clinical-grade CAR T-cell therapy to meet the needs of the underserved WA cancer patient populations. 

The Vonesch Cancer Cell Therapy project led by Dr Zlatibor Velickovic will use the newly purchased ‘Prodigy’ equipment to develop an innovative new therapy using CAR T-cell technology with the aim of improving survival rates for Australians with cancer. The project will utilise existing local gene- and cell-manufacturing infrastructure and international collaborations to address an unmet need. This project aims to:  

  • Reduce Waiting Time: The local manufacture of CAR T-cell therapy at RPH will significantly reduce the waiting period, with products being ready within 8 to 10 days compared to the average 4-week wait for commercial therapies. 

  • Increase Patient-Centred Treatment: With in-house manufacturing capabilities, treatment can be prioritised based on individual patient needs, rather than relying on commercial availability. 

  • Enhance the quality and effectiveness of therapy: Fresh CAR T-cell products, compared to cryopreserved ones, offer better quality and increased potency, leading to improved treatment outcomes. 

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