Fighting cancer with the patient’s own cells

University College London

Veronica is developing mathematical models to improve the accessibility and scalability of CAR T cell therapy. CAR T cell therapy is a new generation of treatment and potential cure for certain aggressive cancers which involves reprogramming the patient’s own immune cells (T-cells) in the laboratory to recognise, target and eliminate cancerous cells.

In clinical trials, Autolus, a biotechnology company that specialises in this field, has developed investigational CAR T therapies that have been shown to offer potential safety advantages over existing CAR T therapies and to be effective in clinical trials. However, for CAR T products, the variability in patients’ cells means current production methods are difficult to standardise, making the therapy expensive and challenging to roll-out on a large scale. Veronica’s mathematical models will address this issue by predicting how cells will behave during manufacture based on experimental results and existing patient data. Her models will help Autolus optimise the manufacturing process by making it more robust and deliver high quality products independently of in process variability.

Veronica will do so by following the current laboratory practice and testing how parameters change and ways in which the process can be optimised based on different scenarios. This dataset will then be developed and fed into the mathematical models. Based at Autolus, Veronica will have access to the laboratories and data required to develop her models into a viable process.

Veronica has an MEng in Chemical Engineering from Loughborough University and is a Research Scientist at Autolus, a biopharmaceutical company using advanced T-cell programming technology to develop a new generation of cancer therapies. She has also completed placements at the Loughborough Centre for Biological Engineering and Unilever’s R&D department.

“I applied for the Industrial Fellowship because of the programme’s link between academia and industry,” says Veronica. “It fit with my desire to produce work that is above all industrially relevant.”