New facility brings the most advanced cellular therapies to patients

lab tech working in Advanced Cellular Therapeutics Facility (ACTF)
The new Advanced Cellular Therapeutics Facility (ACTF) not only provides increased capacity for manufacturing cells for existing therapies, but it also adds new capabilities for processing and manufacturing new types of cellular therapy products for treating blood cancers and benign conditions such as sickle cell disease.

Stem cell transplant (also known as bone marrow transplant) is an established cellular therapy for many cancers but mostly for blood diseases once considered incurable. For some types of blood cancers, such as leukemia and myeloma, stem cell transplant is the standard of care. For others, it’s only considered if other treatments have been unsuccessful.

Today, ongoing advances in stem cell transplant continue to expand availability and improve outcomes for patients, both young and old. This past year, UChicago Medicine replaced the existing 17-year-old stem cell transplant facility and opened a new, state-of-the-art facility to process and manufacture cells for therapeutic purposes.

The new Advanced Cellular Therapeutics Facility (ACTF) not only provides increased capacity for manufacturing cells for existing therapies, but it also adds new capabilities for processing and manufacturing new types of cellular therapy products for treating blood cancers and benign conditions such as sickle cell disease.

The new facility will support the hospital's hematopoietic stem cell transplantation program by processing and manufacturing all blood-based cells for stem cell/bone marrow transplantation for adult and pediatric patients.

In addition, the new facility will have the capabilities for manufacturing novel cell therapies such as CAR T-cells, which have shown great promise for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma.

two lab workers in protective suits in Advanced Cellular Therapeutics Facility (ACTF)
Team members work in a clean room in the new Advanced Cellular Therapeutics Facility.

The new 10,000-square-feet facility houses work spaces for manufacturing cells under good tissue practice (GTP) guidelines as well as clean rooms compatible with current good manufacturing (cGMP) guidelines. Besides these clinical manufacturing spaces, the facility also houses space for quality testing, as well as developing and scaling up new cellular therapies from investigator-initiated and pharmaceutical company-sponsored clinical trials.

The ACTF is registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation program performs more than 200 adult and pediatric stem cell transplants a year in addition to a large number of clinical trials and commercial cell therapy contracts with pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies.

The ACTF is directed by Amittha Wickrema, PhD. He leads a dedicated team that possesses over 60 years of combined experience in clinical cell processing and manufacturing.

Michael Bishop, MD, in cellular therapy lab

Leaders in Cellular Therapy Care & Research

Cellular therapy — the transfer of human cells to heal or replace damaged tissue or cells — holds much promise for patients with cancer and other diseases. UChicago Medicine physicians are pioneers in cellular therapy care, including stem cell transplantation and CAR T-cell therapy.

Learn more about cellular therapy at UChicago Medicine