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Genzyme Strengthens Its Gene Therapy Program

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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 GenentechGlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb, the company opened four new European facilities in September as part of an investment package expected to cost $540m.