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HealthCapital Berlin-Brandenburg. (9/12/23). "Press Release: In Portrait – Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies (BeCAT) at the Charité".

Region Region Berlin
  Country Germany
Organisations Organisation Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies (BeCAT) at the Charité
  Group Humboldt University Berlin
  Organisation 2 Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Charité University Hospital)
  Group Humboldt University Berlin
Products Product advanced therapeutic product (gene therapy, cell therapy, tissue engineering products)
  Product 2 drug development
Person Person Reinke, Petra (Humboldt Univ 202309 Founding Director of BeCAT)

BeCAT - The therapy of the future is developed here

At Charité's "Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies" (BeCAT), the new class of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) has been under development since 2018. In 2024, it will move into the new research building on the Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum.

The "Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies" (BeCAT) at Charité has set itself the goal of treating previously incurable diseases. To this end, the center is developing a new class of drugs called Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs), which are derived from living cells, tissue compositions or gene vectors. Initially, the focus will be on basic and technological research - with the goal of clinical trials.

Collaboration with "Der simulierte Mensch“

BeCAT is still located in the Cranach House on the Charité Campus Virchow-Klinikum. However, the move to a new research building is planned for the coming year. This is located on the newly developed northern part of the campus in the direct vicinity of the research center " Der simulierte Mensch" (The simulated Human”) - whose research building is also still under construction. Both centers intend to cooperate closely with each other and will be connected via an underground tunnel. As a new research building, BeCAT will be constructed with laboratory and clean room use and the associated workstations on two or three levels (split level). "The need to bring new therapeutic concepts quickly into clinical trials is high, but it is often underestimated that this is preceded by a high demand for preclinical research and development. This is an essential interface between the two institutions," says Prof. Petra Reinke, MD, founding director of BeCAT.

Transdisciplinary teams

The new research building with a state-of-the-art modular GMP ("Good Manufacturing Practice") laboratory unit, will be the heart of the research center in the future and will bring with it the opportunity to expand and intensify the work of BeCAT on a large scale. The teams working there are made up of scientists with medical, scientific, engineering, biotechnology and regulatory backgrounds. "Although many find such an approach to team building obvious and useful, putting it into practice is sometimes a difficult (learning) process. Among other things, this has to do with the fact that all these areas have a very different view of one and the same problem. Finding a common "language" here is a central element of team building."

The transdisciplinary composition is based on the central research topic of BeCAT - ATMP-based therapy concepts - thus a new approach in treatment is pursued. In the past, drugs were often developed to combat the symptoms of a disease, but not the actual cause. Advanced therapies, on the other hand, no longer rely on synthetic agents to alleviate symptoms, but on biological drugs to restore patients to health. "The range of indications addressed by a number of transdisciplinary research and development groups is expanding and is currently focused on blood cancers, immunological and virus-related chronic disease entities. We are successfully coordinating EU and BMBF projects in all three areas. For example, we are developing T-cell therapy concepts to make the immune cells selectively isolated from the patient specific for immunoglobulin-mediated diseases such as multiple myeloma, lymphoma, systemic vasculitis or IgA nephropathies via viral or non-viral gene editing. Furthermore, we are working on conferring resistance to an immunosuppressive drug to these immune cells in order to be able to reduce immunosuppressive combination therapy in the long term. This is relevant to all clinical transplant situations and to a range of autoimmune diseases."

A new class of drugs

ATMPs emerging in biomedicine are thus a new class of drugs for curative therapeutic approaches. Because they are often tailored to the individual patient, they are more complex to manufacture and use than traditional drugs. ATMPs include gene therapeutics, somatic cell therapeutics and bioengineered tissue products. They mostly contain or consist of living cells or tissues that are biotechnologically processed.

From these compositions and objectives, research topic areas of the BeCAT are also derived:

Cell-based products for the promotion of endogenous regeneration
Tissue engineering and combination products
Development of cell-based gene therapeutics for gene repair
Development of targeted tumor therapy with immune cells

In addition to clinical testing, research in these fields is intended to provide new impetus for product improvement. This will be achieved through a step-by-step optimization process based on biomarker research throughout the entire product development and application process.

The integrative concept of research at BeCAT already contributes to playing a leading role in national and international research networks and should help to further develop and consolidate this claim. "Berlin as a research location has undergone a very dynamic development in recent years and has succeeded in implementing and networking a large number of outstanding complementary university and non-university structures in the ATMP area. Basic research, technology development, and clinical and regulatory expertise have already become strongly interconnected to enable the translation of all this knowledge into innovative therapeutic concepts. This will also be reflected in the attractiveness of Berlin as a business location."

Related links:

Website BeCAT

Zukunftsprojekt BeCAT (in German)

BeCAT will organize an online ATMP workshop at Healthcare Transformation Academy (start beginning of 2024):

EU project geneTIGA

Research Center „Der simulierte Mensch“ (Si-M) (in German)

Record changed: 2024-01-31


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