Gene Editing
Gene Therapy
Skills, Talent & Development
Viral/Non-Viral Vectors

ASGCT: Highlights From the Program

Ryan Leahy
16 May 2022
Ryan Leahy, our Vice President of Research, is extremely excited to attend his first in-person conference since the pandemic started. For this blog post, Ryan summarizes what he’s looking forward to from the ASGCT program.

The ASGCT Annual Meeting is in it’s 25th year taking place in Washington D.C. from the 16th to the 19th of May, in both an on-site and hybrid format. Bringing together members and non-members from across the cell and gene therapy for three days and a pre-meeting workshop day, covering the latest scientific research, the latest technologies and the ability to connect with veteran leaders and up-and-coming experts across advanced therapies.

1 – Pre-Event Workshops

The pre-meeting workshops spread across the morning and afternoon of the 15th, the day before the conference. There is no doubt that it is worth joining these as there is something for everyone, and they are covering some particularly exciting areas that are critical to the future of the cell and gene therapy space.

From essential technologies such as genome editing and the choice, design and production of viral vectors and AAV vector integration, Through to sessions that focus on key policy and patient-centered issues from newborn screening through to clinicians working with patients for which gene or cell therapies are available, early clinical development, the trends in planning and management of clinical studies and what a patient can expect as a participant in a gene therapy clinical trial.

If you are interested in the convergence of regulatory perspectives to accelerate development there is a session on driving standards. Another session focusses on opportunity and skills in CGT, including entry and learning to thrive in bioindustry, and there are sessions focusing on stem cell therapies from bench to clinic, immune effector therapies and oncolytic viral therapies.

2 – Job Fair

This particular session we will be looking to focus on within our “Workforce of the Future” specialist group within the Phacilitate Network.

While we mentioned the ‘Kick-Starting My Career in Bioindustry’ pre-event workshop earlier in this post, which explores career opportunities, how to apply and the critical differences between industry and academia, the ASGCT also provides a hands-on Careers Fair taking place on Tuesday 17th of May between 3–5pm. The attendance for job seekers is included in the Annual Meeting pass, and the employers present range from Agilent to Ultragenyx, from the FDA to Miltenyi. This is a great forum for connecting with potential employers and complimentary professional headshot experience. Info for both seekers and employers is available here.

3 – The Vector Sector

ASGCT has a fantastic series of sessions on the development of, manufacturing and application of vectors for gene and cell therapies. From the basic underpinning biology of AAV vectors and regulatory hurdles run by Nicole Paulk and J. Fraser Wright, and discoveries in fundamental AAV biology through to critical safety considerations including immune responses to AAV vectors with Melissa Spencer (UCLA) and Shari Gordon (Ask Bio), as well as vector-associated neural and ocular inflammation and the clinical studies in to AAV vectors.

Manufacturing viral vectors is getting more attention than ever, with fantastic contributions across improving design and system performance, deciphering vector genomes and next-generation methodology.

Solutions to vector design through to downstream characterization is leveraged by PerkinElmer and integrating development and manufacturing to deliver viral vector products to market with Thermo Fisher Scientific/Patheon. Dyno Therapeutics will discuss the excitement surrounding transforming the gene therapy landscape with AI-powered AAV vectors.

If viral vectors aren’t your pathway, you can join a session on synthetic nanoparticle based gene transfer.

4 – Keeping Pace with Therapeutic Advances Across the Cell and Gene Therapy Space

Exploring the agenda, some of the most exciting sessions relate to the research and development into advanced therapeutics to cure rare and difficult indications. The sessions explore developments in cardiovascular and pulmonary, immunologic and musculoskeletal diseases, inborn metabolic issues, CNS, lung and GI indications.

As well as in-progress gene and cell therapy trials the programme explores oligonucleotide therapeutics and RNA therapy, oncolytic viruses and in-vivo editing, showcasing the vast array of adjacent and related areas for curative effect. The agenda also explores how cell and gene therapies are competing with best available care- and lowering the burden of treatment, and translating science into medicine.

5 – ASGCT Awards

The cell and gene therapy field has many scientific, technical and clinical personnel who deserve recognition for the life-saving work that they contribute to. The ASGCT awards recognize several major categories across the field, including Outstanding Achievement recognizing members who have achieved pioneering research success, high-impact accomplishment or significant contributions to cell and gene therapy; Outstanding New Investigator recognised early career fellows from academia, research foundations, government and industry; The Founders Award is one of the society’s highest honours, and the Public Service Award goes to a nominee who has fostered and enhanced the field of advanced therapies. Ever serving as a catapult for the advanced therapies workforce, ASCGT also offers an Underrepresented Population Travel award. The full list of award categories is available here.

Find Ryan at ASGCT – contact him directly through the network, here >>