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Report from the 2022 ISCT ANZ Regional Scientific Meeting


Post-Conference Wrap Up: 2022 ISCT ANZ Regional Scientific Meeting

Guy Klamer, PhD (ISCT ANZ Regional Secretary)
Sydney Cord Blood Bank
Sydney Children’s Hospital, Australia

Madison Paton, PhD (ISCT Global ESP Committee, ISCT ANZ ESP Committee Co-Chair)
Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute
The University of Sydney, Australia

Jessica Sue, MHSM (ISCT Global ESP Committee, ISCT ANZ ESP Committee Co-Chair)
Sydney Cord Blood Bank
Sydney Children’s Hospital, Australia

The 2022 International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy, Australia and New Zealand (ISCT ANZ) Regional Meeting was held on the 24th and 25th February in collaboration with the Biotherapeutics Association of Australasia (BAA). While originally planned as a face-to-face meeting in 2 nodes, due to the ongoing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held virtually. A record high attendance of 163 delegates from across Australia and New Zealand attended, to watch pre-recorded and live presentations from speakers covering pre-clinical research, clinical trials and cell and gene therapy commercial delivery on day one, and regulatory updates from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) and New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on day two. Attendees submitted questions virtually throughout and after the sessions, allowing valuable discussions. A virtual exhibit hall enabled attendees to interact with a number of sponsors (Novartis, Therapeutic Innovation Australia and Charles River Laboratories) and exhibitors (Bio rad, Cytiva, ISCT and Miltenyi Biotec). The plenary sponsor was CSL.      

ISCT regional and global leadership members were well-represented, with the official conference opening presented by Prof. Rajiv Khanna (ANZ Regional Vice-President 2020-22) and a President’s welcome by ISCT President 2020-22 Dr. Bruce Levine, and many sessions presented and chaired by current and past members of ISCT Committees.

The plenary session of the conference titled ‘Tribute to the late Dr Geoff Symonds (AM) – Australian Gene Therapy Pioneer”, was a moving tribute with introductions from A/Prof Robert Nordon and Dr Janet Macpherson, as well as a speech by his family members. Dr Symonds was a leading cellular and molecular biologist and gene therapy pioneer in Australia, who sadly passed away in 2021. The presentations were provided by Mike Wilson of CSL who sponsored the Plenary Session, Harry Malech from the National Institutes of Health (USA), Stuart Turville from the University of New South Wales (Australia), and Alison Todd from SpeedX (Australia).

Top Left: A/Prof Nordon, Top Right: Dr Janet Macpherson
Bottom: Symonds family


Above: Mike Wilson (CSL)

The remainder of day one provided the latest updates on pre-clinical and clinical research with a focus on CAR-T cell therapy, gene therapy manufacturing considerations, precursor cell therapy and mesenchymal stem cells; the day ending with presentations on TGA approved gene therapies LUXTURNA and KYMRIAH. Day two switched to regulatory issues, with the first session providing a robust overview of gene therapy regulatory considerations across ANZ, followed by a hypothetical scenario based panel discussion – as previously presented in the 2019 ISCT ANZ Regional Conference – generating stimulating discussion amongst the panel members and attendees. Updates on the regulation and quality control of gene therapy were then presented, as well as an overview of the needs of gene therapy workforce.  

The conference allowed the opportunity for the convergence of leaders in the ANZ cellular therapy community, with clinicians, researchers, quality, and industry all well-represented, giving all attendees insight into the latest research and progresses in our community. Content is now made available on-demand and can be accessed via the meeting portal for those registered.

Presentation Awardees:

  • Best Overall Presentation: Professor Michael Valenzuela; Non-clinical development of a neurorestorative approach to Alzheimer dementia: Hair follicle-derived neuroprecursor cell therapy
  • Best Young Investigator: Dr Tessa Gargett; In vitro studies in support of GD2-specific CAR-T cell therapy for aggressive adult and pediatric brain tumors

Booth Prize Draw Awardees:

  • 1st Place: Matthew Sheedy
  • 2nd Place: Madison Paton
  • 3rd Place: Natasha Barry

If you are an Early Stage Professional (ESP; within 10 years of your terminal degree or entry into the cell therapy field), please visit the ISCT website or contact to register your interest joining the newly formed ISCT ANZ ESP Committee. The committee will foster collaboration and networking between ISCT ESP in Australian and New Zealand and provide opportunities for ESPs to contribute resources and support to the wider ISCT community. And for those who can make it, ISCT celebrates its 30th anniversary at ISCT 2022 in San Francisco at our first in-person conference in two years!