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Serum Institute Partners Univercells to Offer Personalized Cancer Care Globally

Written by : Nikita Saha

April 15, 2024

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This collaboration aims to democratize access to advanced cancer treatments, potentially benefiting millions worldwide.

Owing to the escalating cancer incidence and soaring healthcare costs, the country’s well-known biotech company Serum Institute India (SII) joined forces with Belgian biotech innovator Univercells, to offer affordable personalized cancer care worldwide.

This collaboration aims to democratize access to advanced cancer treatments, potentially benefiting millions worldwide.

Talking about the partnership, Dr Umesh Shaligram, executive director, R&D, SII, said, “We are excited about this collaboration with Univercells with an aim to strengthen the accessibility of cancer care therapies, which may prove to be a boon for cancer treatment across the world, especially in the LMIC’s.”

According to Shaligram, relapse rates for many cancers are very high, especially for patients who are diagnosed at a later stage. ‘’To address this, we are developing unique point-of-care cancer treatment using mRNA in combination with our Recombinant BCG (VPM1002,” the SII executive director added.

Partnership Goal

Currently, advanced personalized treatments such as novel cancer vaccines, and specialized immunotherapies are only within reach of a limited number of patients.

The development of these therapies involves extracting genetic material from a patient’s tumors, a process that is not only time-consuming but also costly.

Moreover, stringent regulations on the sequencing, transfer, and production of genetic material restrict the availability of these treatments to just a few countries.

The partnership between SII and Univercells aims to overcome these hurdles. Their shared objective is to enhance the accessibility and affordability of innovative treatments, thereby potentially securing a substantial portion of the global cancercare market.

“Our technology can cut months off the time to create a personalised therapeutic without compromising quality. We’ve completely redesigned the manufacturing process from first principles and believe that we can save up to 90% of the costs of producing these medicines compared to traditional approaches.” José Castillo, CTO & cofounder, Univercells, stated.

Reportedly, Univercells’ technology also supports small scale, local production. This allows countries, and even hospitals, to provide personalized therapies produced locally.

As the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, SII has one of the largest footprints of any pharma company, with operations in dozens of countries. Leveraging SII’s expansive reach, these innovative therapies have the potential to benefit patients across Europe, India, and Africa.

“Longer term, Univercells and SII believe that they may be able to dramatically accelerate the progress of new medicines. At present, the average time for a cancer therapy to go from patenting to use by patients is close to 15 years in the UK,” the press statement noted.

Recently, Pune’s Serum Institute became a part of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) network. CEPI, a global partnership focused on accelerating the development of vaccines and biological countermeasures against epidemic and pandemic threats, aims to create a more rapid, agile, and equitable response to future disease outbreaks.

Last year, Serum-Mylab's Cy-TB Test, a rapid and precise diagnostic tool, was incorporated into the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP).

This development aims to enhance the diagnosis of latent TB infections, addressing a major healthcare concern in India.

The Cy-TB Test, developed by Serum-Mylab, brought a new level of accuracy and accessibility to latent TB diagnosis. It combines the cost-effectiveness and simplicity of a skin test with the precision of the interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA), a traditional but expensive lab-based test.

About Chime India

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit


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