The MetroHealth System Announces Completion of Vector and Cellular Facility, Improving Access to Critical Therapies for People with Cancer
MetroHealth is the second public hospital and first safety-net hospital in the U.S. to offer in-house viral vector production
MetroHealth today announced the completion and launch of a state-of-the-art vector and cellular Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility that will enable quick, reliable production and processing of the latest cutting-edge cellular immunotherapies, including chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) cancer therapies. With this facility, MetroHealth becomes the first safety-net hospital in the United States to offer in-house viral vector and cellular production for a wide spectrum of medical treatments. It will make CAR-T therapy and cellular immunotherapy research accessible to underserved communities in the greater Cleveland region and beyond.
The new facility is the result of MetroHealth’s Cellular Immunotherapy and Stem Cell Transplantation Program, which is committed to building a team of transplant specialists that can provide patient-centered services associated with the cellular immunotherapies produced and processed in the lab.
“Overcoming social barriers for the communities we serve is part of MetroHealth’s core mission. This new facility furthers that commitment by providing the next generation of cancer treatments to people in need, regardless of financial status,” said William W. Tse, MD, Division Director of Hematology & Oncology at MetroHealth. “MetroHealth is different from most transplant hospitals in that we are able to develop and produce our cellular immunotherapies from A to Z in-house, speeding up delivery of innovative treatments, such as CAR-T therapy production, for both patient treatments and clinical trials. As a result, we are better able to address unmet patient needs and bring therapeutic innovations to our community and beyond.”
CAR-T therapy is a type of immunotherapy in which a patient’s T-cells are “modified and trained” in a laboratory to better target specific cancer cells. These CAR-T cells are then infused back into the patient, where they can precisely identify and destroy specific cancer cells. As a relatively new treatment, CAR-T therapy is often only accessible to patients of large academic centers, and is associated with high treatment burdens requiring patients’ time and resources to adhere to treatment. Paired with MetroHealth’s Institute for H.O.P.E.™, which offers a suite of programs that address social drivers of health, the new facility will improve underserved patients’ access to cutting-edge, potentially lifesaving cancer therapies, while advancing breakthrough research.
“It is crucial that we address social drivers of health for our community – the factors that matter beyond traditional medical care. Whether the need is to access transportation for follow-up appointments, healthy food, or other support systems, MetroHealth is committed to changing the way patients receive care,” said Airica Steed, EdD, RN, MBA, FACHE, President & CEO of MetroHealth. “The launch of our vector and cellular facility will match these holistic support offerings with next-generation treatments and clinical trials, providing our community the access they need to enable the best possible outcomes.”
The new facility reflects the ambitions and efforts of the Cleveland Innovation District, a collaborative partnership between the state of Ohio, JobsOhio, and Cleveland’s five major medical and academic institutions, including MetroHealth.
"This is a significant step for Ohio's cell and gene therapy infrastructure," said Tyler Allchin, executive director of healthcare for JobsOhio, the state's private economic development corporation and a major investor in the Cleveland Innovation District. "So often in years past, our emerging innovators, our researchers, our principal investigators and even our early-stage biotech companies have had to go outside the state for the infrastructure that is now here at MetroHealth.
"Every time a company or a researcher has to do that, we lose a piece of those companies in those efforts. Bringing that home and making it accessible to all, not only here in Cleveland, across the National Center for Regenerative Medicine, but across the state, is really something to be proud of, prideful of, and very thankful for."
“We know that we are stronger together, and this new vector and cellular facility is an opportunity for partnership across the medical community to advance the cancer treatment landscape,” said Julie Jacono, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at MetroHealth. “We look forward to partnering with industry leaders and academic researchers to produce viral vectors that may expedite clinical trials for investigational cancer therapies.”
Construction for the 1,300-square-foot facility began in April 2022. The facility is fully equipped, and research, patient care, and viral vector production are ongoing.
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Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.