Dr. Boro Dropulic, PhD, MBA, co-founder and Executive Director of Caring Cross, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to accelerating the development of advanced medicines and enabling access to cures for all patients, everywhere discusses chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy as a groundbreaking innovation that has shown significant promise in certain cancer indications and could provide curative intervention for multiple cancers, genetic diseases, infectious diseases and other disorders and how the vast potential of CAR-T cell therapy is restricted by the high cost of treatment, which can exceed $400,000, excluding hospital fees. Caring Cross is poised to reduce this cost burden by mobilizing a community of healthcare professionals, scientists, engineers, community advocates, donors, investors and business leaders to enable the development of affordable solutions for current manufacturing methods of CAR-T cell and other advanced therapies; improve access by supporting a decentralized manufacturing model where the final cell product is produced at a reduced cost at the hospital or place-of-care, rather than sent to a centralized corporate manufacturing hub, and facilitate continual advanced technology development that reduces cost and improves access to these therapies.
Boro received his PhD from the University of Western Australia and his MBA from the Johns Hopkins University (JHU). He has been in the gene therapy field since the late 1980s.
After a Fogarty Fellowship at the NIH, he joined the faculty at JHU where he worked on developing Lentiviral vectors as delivery systems for gene therapy. After 4 years in academia, he founded his first company ViRxSys and led the team that first demonstrated the safety of Lentiviral vectors in humans with his UPenn colleagues. Later he founded Lentigen, which first developed the Lentiviral vector used to produce Kymriah™, the first FDA-approved gene therapy product.
Later, Boro saw an opportunity to integrate Lentiviral vector technology with closed-system automated cell processing devices to enable distributive place-of-care manufacturing at hospitals, potentially improving the affordability and accessibility of gene therapy products like CAR-T cells. He therefore spearheaded the acquisition of Lentigen by Miltenyi Biotec in 2014 and led the development of a global place-of-care network of clinical centers that were able to successfully manufacture CAR-T cell products and demonstrate their therapeutic benefits in clinical trials.
Seeing a need for improved business models to support the affordability and accessibility of gene therapy products, Boro co-founded Caring Cross and serves as the Executive Director.