Building cell therapy leadership in Europe


In these videos, Markwin Velders and Louis van de Wiel of Kite, a Gilead Company, provide a behind the scenes insight into the company’s European operations, including building a new manufacturing facility in The Netherlands to deliver cell therapies for eligible people living with cancer in Europe.

The treatment of cancer, particularly immunology, continues to inspire Markwin Velders in his role as Vice President of Operations at Kite, a Gilead Company. As the organisation establishes a new manufacturing facility in Europe, Markwin reflects on the unique challenges of cancer cell therapy production and how Kite is the leader in this field.

“We’ve been working for decades to see how we can improve the recognition of cancer cells by the immune system,” Markwin notes, “and by turning research into a treatment, we are now starting to manufacture cell therapies that can re-programme patients’ immune systems to attack certain types of cancer.”

The manufacture and delivery of cell therapies is a complex, multi-step process, where each treatment is specifically produced for the individual patient. The company’s investment in a facility to manufacture these therapies for Europe is key.

Reflecting on his early involvement in cell therapy research, Markwin remains committed to harnessing the potential of this field of medicine at Kite, adding: “To me, we’re only at the beginning. As a researcher, I have always tried to make a difference in patients’ lives and this is reflected in Kite’s vision – daring to bring these new technologies to life to meet those unmet medical needs for patients.”

Building the future of cell therapy

“I was offered an opportunity to build a facility in a whole new field of cancer treatment,” says Louis van de Wiel, Vice President, Site Head EU Manufacturing, Kite, a Gilead Company. “When this facility opens, it will create a European home for innovation in the delivery of individualised cell therapies.”

When fully operational, the new manufacturing facility in Hoofddorp will support the delivery of up to 4,000 of Kite’s cell therapies each year for eligible cancer patients in Europe. With 240 people supporting the build on a daily basis, it’s a highly coordinated exercise to ensure 1,000 tonnes of steel, 1,800 solar panels and 176km of network cable find their way to the right places across 19,000m2 of space. “In my experience, from the start of building such a facility as this, to being licensed to manufacture could normally take up to four to five years,” notes Louis. “Our ambition is to do this within two years.”

“It’s a complex process that requires highly technical and skilled people,” Louis explains. “One patient equals one individual treatment, so it is critical to preserve the chain of custody and chain of identity to ensure the product comes back to the same patient. The cells are treated with great respect.”


This video was supported by Kite, a Gilead Company ONC/IHQ/19-04//1166e | Date of preparation June 2019