Dr Maria Papathanasiou

Personalised Therapies Distribution – An Engineering Approach



Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapies are promising to create a step-change in the current standard practice of cancer treatment, introducing a novel perspective that places patient schedule in the centre of the decision-making process. Subsequently, this adds to the complexity and coordination of manufacturing and distribution tasks. Contrary to batch produced pharmaceuticals, CAR T cell therapies are characterized by a unique 1:1 manufacturing and distribution model. This is translated into manufacturing and supply chain networks designed and occupied for the production of a single therapy. As a result, scale-up is replaced by scale-out, posing hurdles to the design of robust and responsive networks.

At the moment, patients eligible to receive CAR T cell therapies are limited and the end-to-end distribution model is handled by manufacturers and clinicians ad hoc. However, as demand grows, a systematic procedure is required to ensure therapy availability. In this presentation we will discuss the great potential arising for Process Systems Engineering to provide robust solutions in this space. We will visit and discuss Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP) problem formulations, developed for the performance assessment of candidate supply chain networks in personalised therapies. Moreover, we will introduce the concept of a “dynamic” supply chain that is versatile and responsive to the increasing demand as manufacturers move from clinical trials to commercialisation. The generated solutions will be assessed with respect to: (a) cost effectiveness, (b) scalability and (c) responsiveness to the patient schedule. Lastly, the trade-off between cost-efficiency and responsiveness will be discussed.



Funding from the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the Future Targeted Healthcare Manufacturing Hub hosted at University College London with UK university partners is gratefully acknowledged (Grant Reference: EP/P006485/1). Financial and in-kind support from the consortium of industrial users and sector organisations is also acknowledged.



Dr Maria Papathanasiou is a Lecturer at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, leading the Life Science and Process Systems Engineering (LifeSciPSE) group. Prior to her position she was a Post Doctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Process Systems Engineering and a Visiting Research Scholar at the Energy Institute at Texas A&M University before that. She holds a PhD degree in Process Systems Engineering from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London and an MSc in Advanced Chemical Engineering from the same department. She completed her undergraduate studies at the School of Chemical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens and she conducted her Diploma Thesis in Food Process Engineering at the Technical University of Berlin. Dr Papathanasiou’s research focuses on the development of Process Systems Engineering tools (modelling, optimisation and control) with application to: (a) (bio-) pharmaceuticals (from discovery to delivery) and (b) food systems engineering.


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When: Sep 16, 2020 13:00 PM London
Topic: CPSE Summer Webinar Series: Dr Maria Papathanasiou (CPSE, Imperial College London)

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About CPSE

The Centre for Process Systems Engineering (CPSE) is a multi- institutional research centre. It was inaugurated in August 1989 by Professor Roger W.H. Sargent and involves Imperial College London and University College London. Innovative and dynamic in its approach to research and development, CPSE’s accomplishments include the Queens Prize for Higher Education, presented in 2003 for research excellence and technology transfer. Three spin-out companies have been established. One of these, Process Systems Enterprise Limited (PSE), received the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award in 2007; this is the UK’s highest award for innovation in engineering. The Centre continues to broaden the scope of its activities over all size scales enabling all areas of process systems to be addressed. This enables CPSE to be responsive to the evolving needs of industry and society.

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