Gene Editing: Tools and Technology of the Future

Becky Johnson-Kent
11 January 2023
Automation & Digitisation
Cell Therapy
Clinical Trials
Gene Editing
Gene Therapy
For this interview, Phacilitate’s Becky Johnson-Kent speaks with Jian Irish, President and COO of Metagenomi about her upcoming Chairing of the sessionEditing the Future: Gene Editing Tools and Technology’, at Advanced Therapies Week 2023.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us what you’ll be speaking about at Advanced Therapies Week 2023?

I’m Jian Irish and I’m the president and COO of Metagenomi. At Metagenomi, we leverage our proprietary, metagenomics-derived discovery platform to establish a toolbox of wholly-owned, next-generation gene editing technologies, and translate them into genetic medicines. I’m really excited about speaking and leading the panel discussion on the future of gene editing and its therapeutic applications at Advanced Therapies Week. We know the power of cell therapy and, in my view, the next-generation of cell therapy will require some level of gene editing application. So I’m really excited about discussing this with this panel of experts.

What do you think is needed in order for gene editing to improve the advanced therapy landscape, and what are the challenges associated with this?

Gene editing is a new technology for engineering cells in vivo or ex vivo. The challenges it brings are similar to those of any other new technology. We need to figure out multiple components for gene editing and we need to be aiming for high editing specificity to ensure the safety profile of the products. This is still an emerging technology and requires all of us in the industry to work together – from the service provider all the way to our physicians in the field – to realize this technology for the benefit of our patients.

There are many generations of gene editing technologies that we have been working  through. CRISPR gene editing is the most recently evolving technology, showing hope for the breadth and diverse application of gene editing.

CRISPR allows us to see the potential of gene editing technologies, as well as the next-generation of gene editing technologies, as we continue to improve its diversity, specificity and editing accessibility – we see a lot of hope.

We see the current applications of CRISPR technology working, but if we sink a little bit of further we can consider what the next-generations of technologies could do for us. That’s what I hope we can discuss with the experts at this panel.

Find out more. Join us at Advanced Therapies Week 2023 >>


Within the context of gene editing, where do you see the field in 5 to 10 years’ time?

I have been in this field through the last two waves of technology advancements, and with every wave we see the evolution of gene editing progress more rapidly. Due to cross disciplinary technology, the foundation of science has become much more mature. I think in five years’ time gene editing will be one of the major technologies underpining various fields and modalities of drug development. I can also imagine in five years we will see a number of gene edited based medicines become commercial and successfully serve our patients.

How we move onward really comes down to how we collectively, as an industry, think about how broadly this technology could help us advance our ways of developing drugs for unmet medical needs?

Finally, what are the things you are most looking forward to about Advanced Therapies Week?

Advanced Therapies Week has been really beneficial for getting the cell and gene therapy industry together over the past several years. What’s wonderful about the conference is that it brings together companies developing medicines, and the physicians, with the patient at the center of these discussions.

I’m looking forward to hearing more about what’s emerging in cell therapy development. I think the industry has made such progress since the first few cell therapy products were approved, and we’re seeing more commercial products serving the patients. We all know a lot of our patients don’t have many choices and they are really relying on us to provide them with last hopes for their treatment. The event facilitates multi-disciplinary thinking across the field to try and find solutions for the industry.

Don’t miss Jian’s session, ‘Editing the Future: Gene Editing Tools and Technology’, at Advanced Therapies Week 2023,  Thursday January, 19th 2023.

Join us at Advanced Therapies Week >>