Arindam Mitra (MSc Immunology of Infectious Diseases, 2019) is Head of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) Production at NIHR BRC Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. In this blog piece, he explains how COVID-19 has affected his work and how the UK government’s response has presented some barriers for his work.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has absolutely affected my work. I am Head of ATMP, which is classified as Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products and includes modified cells or genetic vectors or tissue engineered products given to patients as a therapeutic. Prior to the pandemic, we were routinely making products (Patient-specific T cell products) for patients undergoing transplantation and, in another setting, CAR- T cell products for oncology patients. These trials were classified as non-essential and all work relating to these had to be stopped.
“However, work relating to COVID-19 became a high priority. To respond to the pandemic, we have made Mesenchymal Stromal cell products for patients having acute respiratory distress syndrome. In addition, we are currently working on another trial where we are trying to treat patients who have had lung fibrosis due to COVID-19.
“The UK Government’s response to the outbreak has affected my work. Travel restrictions and restrictions on social distancing have made it challenging to work operationally. It has also affected the supply chain of the raw materials used to make these cell and gene therapy products for clinical trials.
“I would say the core immunological concepts which I learnt during the course are essential to me performing my job, since we use immunological cell products to treat patients on trials.”