20 | 07 | 2023
Head of Public Engagement

ARPA-H Dash: Building Toward Your Cells, Your Cure™

Scalable Solutions ARPA-H, Category Winner Cellino
This past spring, Cellino had the opportunity to participate in the ARPA-H Dash to Accelerate Health Outcomes, a national competition designed to crowdsource groundbreaking concepts that improve health for everyone. The Dash was hosted by the
Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a recently formed government agency dedicated to accelerating transformative health solutions that are revolutionary, not evolutionary. It was my privilege to lead Cellino’s effort for the Dash, which culminated in our winning the Scalable Solutions category and placing second overall in the United States with our “Your Cells, Your Cure™” idea.

We commend ARPA-H for hosting the Dash and for their recognition that innovative ideas can come from anyone; we resonate deeply with that mindset at Cellino because some of the most impactful ideas have come from interns who were thinking about problems from a unique angle. We would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to our fellow ARPA-H Dash semifinalists Anuradha Lingappa, Mary Allen, and Jeffrey Paten, all of whom submitted game-changing ideas to the competition.

Your Cells, Your Cure™
While this is an ostensibly simple tag line on its face, it also conveys our deeper vision at Cellino for creating a scalable future for biomanufacturing of autologous (patient-derived), induced pluripotent stem cell-based therapies for millions of patients in need. The past year has seen a confluence of government initiatives bolstering biomanufacturing capabilities, including the Biden Administration’s National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, the White House’s Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing, and the establishment of ARPA-H as an agency dedicated to solving health challenges using non-traditional solutions. We are excited by the alignment of ARPA-H, the Biden Administration, and Cellino’s approach to democratizing access to autologous cell therapies, and we look forward to continuing to engage with these critical entities in pursuit of a shared vision for transformative health interventions.

From applications in conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetes, the potential of cell therapies to treat, reverse, and possibly cure chronic diseases is tremendous. The past several weeks are evidence of the significant progress in the field, given announcements of positive data from Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ type 1 diabetes clinical trial and BlueRock Therapeutics’ trial for Parkinson’s disease. It’s an incredible time to be in the cell therapy space, and it is a privilege to work toward enabling equitable, affordable, and accessible cell therapies for a broad and diverse patient population.

On a personal note, it has been inspiring for me to see such strong engagement and support from the public for a scalable solution for cell therapies. During the six rounds of the ARPA-H Dash, we received many encouraging comments from people from coast to coast across the U.S. and abroad sharing their enthusiasm for our technology. While the health challenges that we are tackling at Cellino are multidisciplinary and complex, our motivation is simple—better, healthier futures for patients using their own cells. Similar to how ARPA-H is making big bets on revolutionary health interventions, we are fully dedicated to developing a biomanufacturing platform for personalized cell therapies in order to improve health in our increasingly diverse world. 

We are delighted to complete the ARPA-H Dash Deep Dive series today, which was a tremendous opportunity for me and our Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer Marinna Madrid to share more about Cellino’s approach and answer questions from a public audience. Many thanks to John Main and Justin Raybern of ARPA-H and to the Polyplexus team for their wonderful facilitation. As we look to the future, the Cellino team is more emboldened than ever to press on toward our goal of bringing life-changing treatments to patients.

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Willie Reaves — twitter, medium, LinkedIn