UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


UCL and partners awarded €10m to develop AI-driven CAR-T manufacturing platform

29 March 2021

UCL is playing a critical role in the newly awarded €10 million EU-H2020 AIDPATH project which will develop a robotic, automated, point-of-care facility for the manufacture of personalised gene-engineered T cells enabling the development of advanced personalised medicines

Two scientists in UCL Biochemical Engineering laboratory - white coats and screen

AIDPATH – Artificial Intelligence-driven Decentralised Production for Advanced Therapies in the Hospital – brings together a world-leading consortium comprising of 13 leading European partners from across 8 countries to address the challenge of personalized advanced therapy production at the bedside. The platform will be integrated into the hospital site, allowing for point-of-care manufacture, and will make it possible to provide cancer patients with treatment tailored to their needs.

The project was funded as part of the EU-Horizon 2020 call for enabling ‘AI for the smart hospital of the future’ and is designed pioneer clinical manufacture of the next-generation of personalised medicines through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. AI will play a key role in incorporating individual patient data and biomarkers into the manufacturing process to augment therapeutic outcomes. The AI will also facilitate the automation of the logistics and supply chain of CAR-T delivery to synchronise patient scheduling and capacity planning, reduce cost and hospital utilization and create a robust data management and cybersecurity infrastructure.  

Building on the success of an aligned previous EU H2020 project AUTOSTEM involving key partners IPT Fraunhofer and UCL, AIDPATH will deliver  an automated and intelligent facility that is capable of producing targeted and patient-specific cell therapy directly at the point of treatment. This will take into account integration of the automated platform into the clinical site as well as the supply chain logistics, data handling, management and security. 

Dr Qasim Rafiq, Associate Professor in Bioprocess Engineering and UCL Principal Investigator for AIDPATH, said:

“CAR-T therapies have proven to be transformational for treating aggressive blood-based cancers. However the manufacture of these personalised therapies is costly, requires extensive manual intervention and involves complex logistics and supply chains. Our leading bioprocessing and biomanufacturing expertise will enable AIDPATH to establish an AI-driven automated manufacturing platform to industrialise CAR-T production and embed this in a leading clinical site to support hospital-based point-of-care manufacture. This builds on the success of our previous EU project, AUTOSTEM, which delivered a fully-automated, GMP-amenable, production platform for scalable stem cell production.”

Dr Stephen Goldrick, Lecturer in Digital Bioprocess Engineering and UCL Co-Investigator for AIDPATH, said:

“Our project will harness artificial intelligence, apply digital bioprocessing tools and utilise state-of-the-art modelling platforms to create a CAR-T manufacturing digital twin. This will support the development of an automated robotic system for the production of CAR-T cell therapies, allowing us to significantly reduce the costs and helping improve quality of life for patients around the world. Through our collaboration, we aim to meet the clinical and commercial need for gene therapy manufacturing platforms and to embed digital tools to support future manufacturing capability”  

Dr Niels König, Head of the Department, Production Metrology at the Fraunhofer IPT and AIDPATH Project Coordinator, said: 

“In the EU AIDPATH research project, we are creating a prototype for the intelligent and automated production of therapeutics of the future. The hospital environment is integrated in an intelligent way and aspects of logistics, capacity planning, data management and IT security are also included. CAR T-cell manufacturing will take place in a compact facility that can be operated by medical professionals on-site at the hospital. This enables personalized treatments to be delivered directly at the point of care. In this way, we are enabling a paradigm shift in the care of patients with personalized therapeutics.”

Notes to Editors  


The AIDPATH project is funded by the EU Commission under the DT-ICT-12-2020 AI for the smart hospital of the future call under grant agreement Grant agreement ID: 101016909. The project will last four years and consortium partners include: UCL (UK); Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (Germany); Foundation for Research and Technology (Greece); SZTAKI Institute for Computer Science and Control (Hungary); Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (Germany), Panaxea BV (The Netherlands), IRIS Technology Solutions (Spain), Red Alert Labs (France), Fujifilm Irvine Scientific (The Netherlands), Aglaris Cell SL (Spain), Würzburg University Hospital (Germany), Ortec Optimization Technology BV (The Netherlands), Fundacio Clinic per a la recerca Biomedica (Spain)