Serum Institute of India and Univercells Partner to Boost Access to Personalized Cancer Care

Published on: 

The collaboration aims to reduce manufacturing time and costs, allowing more access to specialized cancer treatments.

Serum Institute of India (SII), a vaccine manufacturer, and Univercells, a Belgian biotech company, have announced a partnership aimed at significantly increasing accessibility to personalized cancer treatments (1).

Personalized cancer care, including novel cancer vaccines and specialized immunotherapies, are limited to a small number of patients due to the nature of how they are created. These treatments require genetic material from the patient’s tumors, which is an expensive and lengthy process, and there are strict regulatory limitations on the sequence, transfer, and manufacturing of genetic material, which further limits access to these therapies in only a few countries. Univercells and SII plan to address these problems through their collaboration, which includes the development of messenger-RNA-based point-of-care treatments using SII’s recombinant bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) (VPM1002).

Univercell’s manufacturing technology supports small scale, local production that can equip countries and hospitals to provide personalized therapies. “Our technology can cut months off the time to create a personalized therapeutic without compromising quality,” said José Castillo, co-founder and chief technology officer of Univercells, in the press release. “We’ve completely redesigned the manufacturing process from first principles and believe that we can save up to 90% of costs of producing these medicines compared to traditional approaches.” The companies intend to combine this technology with SII’s global reach to dramatically accelerate the progress of new medicines.


“Our target is to reduce that delay to just three years,” said Castillo, in reference to the average 15 years it takes a cancer therapy to go from patenting to use in the United Kingdom. “We have many barriers to overcome, but because we can automate the system, we believe we can produce personalized therapeutics which still meet the highest standards of quality and are acceptable to the regulators.”

Univercells is no stranger to such partnerships. As covered by Pharmaceutical Technology, Univercells announced a collaboration with Altamira Therapeutics in late March 2024 to explore more efficient ways to deliver mRNA (2).

“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 [low- and middle- income countries],” said Dr. Umesh Shaligram, executive director, R&D, SII.


  1. Serum Institude of India, Serum Institute of India Collaborates with Univercells to bring Affordable Personalized Oncology to Masses. (accessed Apr. 12, 2024).
  2. Husni, D. Univercells and Andelyn Biosciences Form Separate Drug Development Partnerships., Mar. 28, 2024.