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KI and Karolinska University Hospital establish ATMP center

Karolinska University Hospital’s director Björn Zoëga and Karolinska Institute’s rector Annika Östman Wernerson have signed an agreement to establish a new joint center for advanced cell, gene and tissue therapies.

The new center, which has operations both in Huddinge/Flemingsberg and in Solna, will be named Karolinska ATMP-centrum. ATMP stands for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products.

“Already today, we see examples of gene therapy drastically improving the survival of patients affected by certain forms of cancer. Advances in ATMP and other precision medicine areas will change the way healthcare is conducted. We must increase the pace of introducing the new treatments, to be able to cure more people but also to make social economic gains,” says Björn Zoëga, hospital director of Karolinska University Hospital.

The Karolinska ATMP center will be financed equally by the Karolinska University Hospital and the Karolinska Institutet. The center will gather the development of cell, gene and tissue therapy in one organization and participate in national and international collaborations. This will form an important basis for strengthening cooperation with neighboring regions and pharmaceutical companies.

A long tradition

Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital’s collaboration around cell and gene therapies has a long tradition and already in 1975 the unit for Cell Therapy and Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation (CAST) was founded. At CAST, Sweden’s first standard treatment with CAR-T cells was carried out in 2019. Today, CAST offers several ATMP drugs in standard treatment and for clinical trials. The GMP unit Vecura at the Karolinska Center for Cell Therapy (KCC) in Huddinge, which today consists of 13 clean rooms, produced Sweden’s first gene therapy drug for clinical trials in 1997 and in 2014 the first CAR-T cells that went to clinical trials in Europe. Another GMP facility with a special focus on immunotherapy is at the Karolinska Comprehensive Cancer Center (KCCC) in Solna. In 2019, the Nordics’ first pre-GMP unit was inaugurated at Karolinska Institutet Campus Flemingsberg, with five clean rooms. The Pre-GMP unit is an important bridge between research laboratories and Vecura and has been of decisive importance for the development of two therapeutic products that are currently undergoing clinical trials.

“Together with our partners in the business world, other regions and universities around the world, the Karolinska ATMP Center can make important contributions to the development of new ATMP therapies,” says Karolinska Institute’s Rector Annika Östman Wernerson.

Photo: Karolinska University Hospital