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AstraZeneca is pioneering novel cell therapies for some of the world’s most common chronic diseases


We sat down with Professor Francesco Dazzi, Medical Lead Cell Therapy, BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, to learn about the company’s groundbreaking cell therapy pipeline in cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic diseases and in immunology and discuss why developing cell therapy for a large patient population requires a different approach.

During the last five years, we have witnessed an explosion in cell therapy innovation. Significant advances in the understanding of disease biology and major innovations in gene editing, protein engineering, and cell culture technology have created a highly fertile scientific environment in which cell therapy research is flourishing. As an early innovator in cell therapy, AstraZeneca BioPharmaceuticals is now investigating the potential of this exciting technology across cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic diseases and immunological diseases.

This represents a paradigm shift for cell therapy. Across the industry, much of the research in this area has concentrated on developing treatments for complex cancers and rare diseases, which generally target small patient populations. AstraZeneca is developing potential groundbreaking treatments for some of the most prevalent diseases in the world. Not only is it meeting significant unmet need, but it also is breaking new ground in these disease areas.

Leveraging its cross-functional expertise from oncology, the company is exploring the removal of disease-causing or dysfunctional cells using engineered immune cells, such as CAR-T cells. Its innovative pipeline includes engineering Treg cells, which act as “natural brakes” in the immune system and control the activity of other immune cells. These Treg cells are engineered using CRISPR gene-editing technology with the aim to treat inflammatory diseases. Using functional genomic screens, its scientists are identifying potential targets that they want to engineer in the cells. The company is also exploring a next-generation off-the-shelf CAR-T therapy for immunological diseases.

Learn more about the company’s cell therapy pipeline and challenges from Francesco Dazzi, Medical Lead Cell Therapy, BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca.

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