Gene therapy research collaborations gain traction for next-gen medicines

By Andre Rickard, The Science Advisory Board contributing writer

January 3, 2022 -- Research collaborations are becoming increasingly more common, allowing companies to pool existing resources to advance innovations in the field of medicine. There are many partnerships within the gene therapy field, according to Cell and Gene Therapy Business Outlook, a sister publication of ScienceBoard. Some companies engaging in such research collaborations are Regeneron, EdiGene, and Ferring Ventures.

Regeneron-Decibel Therapeutics

Regeneron is a leading biotechnology company that is developing treatments for a variety of diseases, ranging from rare and inflammatory diseases to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Regeneron optimizes the drug development process through the use of proprietary genetic technologies and research initiatives, such as the Regeneron Genetics Center.

Regeneron recently extended an existing research agreement with Decibel Therapeutics for the development of gene therapies for hearing loss. As part of the agreement, Regeneron will pay Decibel an extension fee of $10 million in the fourth quarter of 2022. The agreement, initially launched in 2017, will be extended through November 2023. Under the agreement, Decibel is developing three gene therapies that target congenital, monogenic hearing loss with Regeneron. In 2022, Decibel plans to begin a phase I/II clinical trial of DB-OTO, its lead gene therapy candidate.

EdiGene-Peking Union Medical College Hospital

EdiGene is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on leveraging genome-editing technologies to develop novel therapeutics for a broad range of genetic diseases and cancer. The company has established proprietary ex vivo genome-editing platforms for hematopoietic stem cells and T cells, an in vivo therapeutic platform based on RNA base editing, and high-throughput genome-editing screening to discover novel targeted therapies.

The company has entered into a research collaboration with the Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing to develop in vivo gene-editing therapies based on the genetic characteristics of inherited retinal degeneration. The agreement will involve evaluating the efficacy and safety of Lepaer, EdiGene’s proprietary RNA single-base editing technology. Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Ferring Ventures-University of Eastern Finland

Ferring Ventures (Ferring) is a research-driven specialty biopharmaceutical group focused on the areas of reproductive medicine and maternal health, as well as specialty areas within gastroenterology and urology. In particular, Ferring integrates gene and cell therapy technologies into its drug development process.

As an extension of these technologies, Ferring has entered into a research collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland. The collaboration will develop state-of-the-art production methods for gene therapy, according to the organizations. Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed. Ferring is also the owner of both the Kuopio Center for Gene and Cell Therapy and Finvector Oy, two companies in Finland that specialize in gene therapy.

These research collaborations by Regeneron, EdiGene, and Ferring signal the continued expansion of gene therapies and genetic technologies in the current healthcare landscape. The global gene therapy market is growing rapidly as companies continue to innovate treatment options. With a trajectory for rapid growth, healthcare companies and institutions are likely to continue such collaborations.

To stay up to date on the latest business happenings in the cell and gene therapy industry, check out Cell & Gene Therapy Business Outlook today!

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