Friday, October 23, 2015

Innovations in Single-Use Technologies: Mario Philips of Pall

By: Leah Kinthaert

BioProcess International Magazine had a great interview with Mario Philips, President, Single-Use Technologies at Pall Life Sciences, earlier this year. Pall is the sponsor for the Cell Therapy Bioprocessing Pre-Conference Symposia at the BioProcess International Conference and Exhibition happening Monday, October 26 in Boston. What follows are some of the highlights of the conversation between Philips and BioProcess International Magazine’s Publisher Brian Caine.

In some ways, you could say Mario Philips’ career came full circle when his company entered the cell therapy market. A chemical engineer by trade with some time spent in the biopharma industry, the 2000s found him working in the semiconductor industry at a company called ATMI. Philips said: “The semiconductor industry was facing the challenge of molecular and particle contamination when cleaning the stainless steel containers used for transportation…So we developed a bag-in-a-bottle and a bag-in-a-container system.” A friend gave him the idea to translate what they were doing to the life sciences. So he set out to become the leader in SUT (single use technology) by asking customers what was not yet addressed by the current technology. The connection with cell therapy comes from the fact that Belgium, where he lives, has a comparatively large biotech industry. Not many equipment manufacturers saw cell therapy as a promising business model - but his company at the time did.

Philips brings that thought leadership and innovation to Pall, where his goal is to bring cost-effective technologies that help “companies get more out of their R&D related technologies and help them either scale out (for autologous therapies) or scale up (for allogeneic therapies).”

Caine asked Philips to describe exactly what making those technologies cost-effective would entail: – “For autologous therapies…the goals are to close up the process and develop industrial scale automation…For allogeneic therapies…the goals are to close up the process, reduce the risk, and bring in some controls.”

Caine then asked why Pall was entering the cell therapy market when so many other companies are waiting for a return and “a bit more clarity in the market”.– Philips’ responded: “At Pall we believe it is a risk, but it is a more calculated risk, and we want to be first-to-market with this platform.”

Caine: Where do you see yourself as a leader in the cell therapy market and what products does Pall have to support that? Philips answers: “I think we have a strong position in what I call the expansion step of the cells. We have more product development in what I call the volume reduction step. Then we want to leverage expertise from our current business – one such area is process development....The second area that we want to leverage is our internal biopharma automation and process group. We build large chromatography skids. We set up complete single-use suites with the bioreactor in the middle and the mixers around it. We are building the expertise to connect these great products into a real platform solution. So I would say our focus is currently on industrial manufacturing, helping customers out of a relative crunch that they are in.”

The agenda for the PreConference Symposia on Cell Therapy Bioprocessing on Monday, October 26 can be found here. You can find the complete interview with Philips here.

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