Genzyme Strengthens Its Gene Therapy Program
News Jan 12, 2006
Genzyme has announced that it has strengthened and diversified its ability to develop gene therapy products that use either adenovirus or adeno-associated virus vectors.
In December, the company bought extensive gene therapy assets from US company Avigen for $12m (€10 m), including patents focusing on adeno-associated virus technology; a phase I/II clinical development program in Parkinson's disease; and a clinical collaboration in haemophilia.
In November, Genzyme also paid $3.2 m to acquire the viral manufacturing facilities from US company Cell Genesys.
Genzyme plans to use the acquired assets and the facilities to support its existing gene therapy research and clinical trials, and to broaden its manufacturing capabilities in both adenovirus and adeno-associated virus vectors, which are used to deliver genes to the appropriate cells in patients.
"We also look forward to advancing Avigen's ongoing work in Parkinson's disease and haemophilia, areas where we believe gene therapy could play a meaningful role in treatment," said Rich Gregory, Genzyme's head of research.
In the wake of a number of large-scale investments in biological drugs production capacity, from the likes of Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb, the company opened four new European facilities in September as part of an investment package expected to cost $540m.
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.