11 Insights to Help Build Great Partnerships with Cell & Gene Therapy Companies


Written by:
Ian Hamilton-Burge, Director of Customer Solutions

During our ongoing conversations with clients here at Zymewire, it became clear that cell and gene therapy companies were really heating up – and that connecting with them is important to you. Our 11 insights below draw on the perspective of industry experts to explore how you can specifically practice empathy with your cell and gene therapy prospects to build strong partnerships.


When it comes to the growth of cell and gene therapy companies, Jim Foster, CEO of Charles River Laboratories, says it best :

“Approximately $20 billion was invested in cell and gene therapy companies…which now total over 2,000 programs…approximately two-thirds of which are in the preclinical phase.”


Building on a conversation we had with industry experts in a recent webinar (you can see the whole conversation here), this blog post will provide some insights from Zymewire as well as perspectives from leading experts in the field on how to partner with cell and gene therapy companies most effectively. We will also explore what’s different in the cell and gene therapy space as compared to legacy pharma.

Below, you will find 11 insights (or factors that differentiate cell and gene therapies from other legacy pharma). Those 11 insights are organized in three areas, which are built on a foundation of empathy:

  1. The Patient-centric Nature of Cell and Gene Therapy and What Their Executives Expect from Their Solution Providers
  2. The Heightened Information Needs That Cell and Gene Therapy Companies Have (And the Timeliness of Those Needs!)
  3. The Complexity of Cell and Gene Therapy and the Sense of Urgency 

And as an added bonus, we will also explain how you can leverage empathy in each of those areas to build better relationships with cell and gene therapy companies.

Our hope is that you will utilize these insights to help you to be as confident and prepared as possible when approaching cell and gene therapy companies.

On to the 11 insights:

The Patient-centric Nature of Cell & Gene Therapy and What Their Executives Expect From Their Solution Providers


As we heard from Nick Stephens at The RSA Group, great partners empathize with:

  • The patient-centric mission the leadership team is aligned to, which is what unites everyone at the company.
  • The higher expectations that come from a high-caliber executive team – that you can do your work at a fast pace and that you believe in and want to be part of their mission.


  1. Chief Medical Officer’s role is expanded – In legacy pharma, the CMO is mainly focused on risk reduction and compliance. However, in cell and gene therapy companies with small patient populations, the CMO is also laser-focused on planning how the company will be an integral part of the patient care team – meaning everyone involved with the company must be focused on the patient and their care.


  1. High desire for control of the manufacturing process – Many are building their own facilities and doing this work in-house, whereas legacy pharma had a lower need for control and could feel more comfortable outsourcing.  


  1. Management’s focus is patient-centric vs. product-centric – Rather than the legacy pharma culture – which is focused on showing the world how well their drug works – management of cell and gene therapy companies are focused on figuring out how to give all their patients hope.

 

  1. Early-stage startups are well-funded – In the cell and gene therapy space, most early-stage startups are well-funded from Day 1, as opposed to their legacy pharma counterparts who need to show additional proof between academic research and their first large investment round.


The Heightened Information Needs That Cell & Gene Therapy Companies Have (And the Timeliness of Those Needs!)


As we heard from Janel Firestein at Clarkston Consulting, great partners empathize with:

  • A cell and gene therapy company’s high need for data and progress reporting. They are moving fast, so they need guidance and assistance in pulling information together in a compliant manner – and in a way that provides complete visibility to what is going on across the organization. 


  1. Automation in the design process is a “must-have” – This is a key difference from legacy pharma, where automation is either not a big priority or is simply a “nice to have”.  By automating, they are able to take out the human factor as much as possible in the manufacturing process and reduce risk.

 

  1. See manufacturing as a liability – Legacy pharma counterparts see it as a lower or medium risk; cell and gene therapy companies perceive manufacturing to be a high risk and are therefore more likely to bring it in house and then audit and monitor extensively. 


  1. End-to-end tracking expectations – Cell and gene therapy companies want full traceability from donor to infusion rather than merely knowing when/where it was sold.


  1. Need real-time data! – Cell and gene therapy companies want real-time data whenever possible, as opposed to being satisfied with asynchronous or mostly asynchronous data. 


The Complexity of Cell & Gene Therapy and the Sense of Urgency 


As we heard from Sergio Armani at Advarra, great partners empathize with:

  • The extra complexity the sponsor is going to face getting their treatments to clinical study patients.
  • The extra sense of urgency the sponsor has because they care so much about the patients.


  1. High amount of education needed at clinical site/investigator level – Most non-academic sites are not prepared for IBCs and protocols, so significant education is needed; this is less important when dealing with legacy pharma.  

 

  1. Reasons for delays of clinical studies are different – With cell and gene therapy companies, these delays are typically caused by site training, complex logistics, or manufacturing. In legacy pharma, most delays are caused by patient recruitment issues or potential manufacturing supply issues.

 

  1. Lower confidence in CRO project proposal accuracy – In terms of timelines and budgets, they are often operating in unfamiliar territory, as opposed to high confidence when dealing with legacy pharma. Getting the budget, resourcing, and planning on track is a critical way to add value.


These are just a few of the most important insights or factors that differentiate cell and gene therapy companies from other legacy pharma and how you can leverage them to build great partnerships with cell and gene therapy companies. 


It’s important to consider the ways that empathy underlies each of those areas – and how you can use it to your advantage when creating a win-win scenario for you and those with whom you are building those important partnerships in the cell and gene therapy world.


Click here to see the full webinar or download the accompanying materials.

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