From The Editor | April 26, 2024

Cell & Gene: The Podcast Post-Episode Recap: Vor Bio's Dr. Robert Ang


By Erin Harris, Editor-In-Chief, Cell & Gene
Follow Me On Twitter @ErinHarris_1


Cell & Gene: The Podcast features some of the CGT sector’s brightest leaders who share their expertise on the timeliest topics and trends. I know not everyone listens to podcasts, and even if you do, you may not get to every episode. So, I’ve created this article series, Cell & Gene: The Podcast Post-Episode Recap, which shares highlights, quotes, and more from recently aired episodes of Cell & Gene: The Podcast.

The Episode:

Episode #73: Reducing the Disease Burden of AML with Vor Bio's Dr. Robert Ang

Guest At-A-Glance

Robert Ang, MBBS, MBA is President and CEO of Vor Bio. Robert is an accomplished senior biotech executive and is formerly a physician, venture capitalist, and strategy consultant. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM).

Company At-A-Glance

Vor Biopharma (Vor Bio) is a clinical stage cell therapy company. It combines a novel patient engineering approach with targeted therapies to provide a solution for patients suffering from hematological malignancies.

Episode Highlights

In the Clinic

Dr. Ang was my guest on Episode 13, which aired more than 2 years ago. At the time, Vor had developed a groundbreaking approach for treating Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) but had not yet begun clinical trials to test the approach.

Cut to Episode 73, where Dr. Ang shares that the company has two programs in the clinic to treat AML: VCAR33Allo, the CD33-directed transplant donor CAR-T, and Trem-Cel, the company’s shielded stem cell transplant. Regarding Trem-Cel specifically, Vor is taking a regular stem cell transplant and genome engineering it to miss CD33 expression leaving cells that behave like regular stem cells. Vor has treated eight patients demonstrating clinical proof of concept, showing that all eight patients managed to reconstitute their blood system. And the patients have shown that the stem cell therapy can reconstitute neutrals, which are very important white blood cells that protect against infection and can also reconstitute platelets.

The Why Behind Hybrid Manufacturing

Vor constructed a new in-house clinical manufacturing facility in Cambridge, MA which is co-located with their headquarters. Dr. Ang explained the reason for building an in-house facility is to own and control the manufacturing process. He also shared that the company is a believer of using CDMOs as well. In fact, Vor partners with a CDMO to manufacture Trem-Cel.

Top Quotes

10:46:   “We found out that basically one in 10,000 healthy people do not express CD33. Occasionally you come across these people who don’t express CD33. So they seem to be perfectly healthy. So, maybe you don’t need this protein? That is an interesting observation. But it’s a different question to say, if you or I, having expressed CD33 our entire lives, if we start receiving a stem cell transplant that lacks CD33, what happens? Do these cells behave normally? Do they behave with all the other cells that express CD33? Are these cells selectively growing or diminishing? Do they act like a regular blood system? And that’s a question that we could only answer by entering the clinic and treating patients.”

19:15:   “We're not set up to make our own commercial product here. I think we would have over-spent and over-invested if we had made a commercial [manufacturing] facility. That’s not to rule out that we couldn’t do it ourselves later. But we want to make stage-appropriate investments.”

There’s More Where That Came From

Do you like what you’ve read and what to learn more? Listen to the full-length episode to hear Dr. Ang’s take on the future of AML, deep-dive details on manufacturing, and more.