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R&D Focus

iKNOBEADS to Tackle the Global Threat of Cancer

iKNOBEADS is the manufacturing technology of the world’s only biomimetic knobby magnetic beads.

iKNOBEADS is the manufacturing technology of the world’s only biomimetic knobby magnetic beads.

T-cells are a type of lymphocyte mainly responsible for attacking infected cells, cancer cells, and transplanted cells. The quality of T cells is crucial to fighting cancer with precision medicine. Inspired by nature, ITRI developed the manufacturing technology of the world’s only biomimetic knobby magnetic beads, named iKNOBEADS, which are perfectly suited for the ex vivo activation of T cells. The expanded T cells are applied in T-cell therapies, such as chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy.

At present, the commercially available magnetic beads are all spherical in shape. In contrast, ITRI’s magnetic beads have unique knobby morphologies, which create a larger surface area that can greatly improve the interactions with T cells, leading to significant T cell expansion. Resting T cells can be activated efficiently and thus enhance the killing efficacy towards tumor cells. Moreover, the uniformity of particle size provides batch-to-batch reproducibility. The magnetic property of the particles allows for ease of separation and suitability for automation.

Compared with other magnetic bead products on the market, trials in cell therapy centers have proven that human T cells showed a higher fold expansion with younger subsets using ITRI’s novel iKNOBEADS. Moreover, iKNOBEADS shows higher activation and expansion efficiency for both αβT and γδT cells whereas other products target only αβT cells.

iKNOBEADS can also find potential applications in the manufacturing of other types of immune cells such as natural killer (NK) cells. These functionalized magnetic beads can replace the products available on the market used in T cell manufacturing processes.

The unique knobby magnetic beads can strengthen and reactivate T cells to fight cancer cells.

The unique knobby magnetic beads can strengthen and reactivate T cells to fight cancer cells.

iKNOBEADS is the world’s first magnetic bead-based solution for γδT cell activation and expansion, opening a new era for allogeneic cell immunotherapy. “The unique knobby magnetic beads can strengthen and reactivate T cells to fight cancer cells, as proven in tests done at National Taiwan University Hospital,” said Peggy Jiang, Deputy Division Director of ITRI’s Biomedical Technology and Device Research Laboratories. “This innovation offers a more efficient and economical solution to generate T cells for immunotherapy. The cost is reduced by 2/3 or more,” she added. Due to its R&D breakthrough and industrial impact, iKNOBEADS was named a 2019 R&D 100 Award winner. GMP-grade iKNOBEADS is expected to launch in 2020 and will play a crucial role in cancer treatments.

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