May 22, 2024
Middle East and Asia Pacific Cell and Gene Therapy

Cell And Gene Therapy Gains Momentum In The Middle East And Asia Pacific

The fields of cell and gene therapy have seen tremendous advancements globally in recent years. Many life-threatening and debilitating diseases that were previously considered incurable are now being treated with these novel therapeutic approaches. The Middle East and Asia Pacific regions have emerged as important hubs for cell and gene therapy research, development and commercialization. Let’s take a closer look at the progress and potential in these dynamic areas of the world.

Emerging Cell Therapy Hubs in the Middle East

The Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar recognize the promise of cell therapies and are making large investments to build domestic capabilities. Regional powerhouses like Saudi Arabia have launched ambitious initiatives like the Saudi Vision 2030 that include developing advanced biopharma manufacturing facilities and clinical research centers. Thanks to abundant oil wealth, these countries also have the financial resources to partner with top global cell therapy companies.

A major cell therapy cluster has taken shape in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah based KFSHRC established the region’s first Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant cell manufacturing facility in 2017. It has since supported dozens of clinical trials, including for CAR-T therapy for blood cancers. Nearby King Faisal Specialist Hospital has also established in-house capabilities for processing stem cells used in bone marrow transplants. Looking ahead, Saudi plans a new 1500+ bed specialized hospital in Riyadh focused on regenerative medicine.

The UAE too has emerged as a Middle East and Asia Pacific Cell and Gene Therapy   hub with the launch of facilities like the Dubai Stem Cell Center. It has FDA-inspected cell production labs and focuses on treating conditions like diabetes, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injury using approaches like stem cell therapy. Qatar is also investing heavily through initiatives of the Qatar Biobank and Hamad bin Khalifa University. Overall, the GCC countries today offer a business-friendly environment and infrastructure to develop locally relevant cell therapies.

Rising Prominence of Gene Therapy in Asia Pacific

Across Asia Pacific as well, countries are ramping up investments recognizing gene therapy’s potential. Major governments supporting this transition include Singapore, South Korea, Australia, China and Japan. For example, Singapore aims to be a global hub for rare disease research and has approved several gene therapies. The Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Australia made significant contributions to developing gene therapies for haemophilia.

South Korea has built capabilities approved by the US and EU for manufacturing viral vectors used in gene therapies. Having emerged as a frontrunner in developing next-gen therapies like CAR-T, South Korean companies are undertaking several gene therapy clinical trials as well. Japan remains the third largest pharma market and companies like Shire, AnGes and Lacerta are developing therapies focused on hemophilia, heart disease among others.

Meanwhile, China is ramping research efforts recognizing gene therapy’s applications for diseases prevalent locally like cancer, diabetes and genetic disorders. Fosun Pharma’s approval of the first gene therapy for ADA-SCID was a major milestone. Hong Kong is also emerging as a gene therapy hub with its Southern University of Science and Technology’s recent approval for a glioblastoma gene therapy trial. Overall the Asia Pacific region is investing in translation research, clinical trials and commercialization of gene therapies.

Growing Regional Infrastructure and Partnerships

To accelerate cell and gene therapy development, countries across these regions are building top-notch infrastructure. For instance, Saudi’s KFSHRC and Taibah University have launched regen medicine-focused graduate programs. Dubai Science Park based facilities conduct vector production, characterization, upstream and downstream processing activities.

Asian players too are enhancing research infrastructure through initiatives like Singapore’s Experimental Biologics Cluster and South Korea’s Genome Research Support Grant Program and Centers for International Industrial Technology Collaboration.

Additionally, partnerships between regional players and leading global biotechs are catalyzing progress. For example, KFSHRC has partnered with Novartis and Gilead on CAR-T therapies. Dubai Stem Cell Center works with Stemedica and Reliance Life Sciences. Australian player Cynata has a partnership with Fujifilm for stem cell manufacturing.

Numerous industry-academia partnerships are driving first-in-human trials as well. Overall, strategic partnerships enable regional scientists to learn from global best practices and fast-track development. Simultaneously, international companies gain access to new talent pools and business opportunities in these regions.

Concluding Remarks

In summary, the Middle East and Asia Pacific are emerging as dynamic hubs that are making advances and investments focused on localized as well as global therapies. Cell and gene therapy centers being established will help treat diseases with significant disease burdens in these regions. Additionally, partnerships and exchange of knowledge are generating energy and synergies. With continued collaboration between industry, academia and governments, novel therapies with potential to cure previously incurable diseases will be realized more quickly for patients globally.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it