UCB expands gene therapy capabilities

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

November 12, 2020 -- UCB has acquired Belgium-based Handl Therapeutics and formed a new collaboration with Florida-based Lacerta Therapeutics to accelerate the company's gene therapy activities.

UCB has made these strategic moves to expand its capabilities in gene therapy by adding two research programs from Handl. The company's proprietary in vivo gene therapies are used to treat complex neurodegenerative diseases through adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid technology. Its capabilities are enabled by licensed technology from KU Leuven (Belgium), the Centre for Applied Medical Research (CIMA Universidad de Navarra, Spain), University of Chile, and King's College London.

The Handl team will continue to be based in Leuven, Belgium and will work closely with UCB's international teams. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

UCB is also partnering with Lacerta to fulfil its patient value ambition. Lacerta's mission is to make AAV-based therapies available for all patients with rare and serious neurological disorders. Through the new research collaboration and licensing agreement with UCB, Lacerta will lead research, preclinical activities, and the early manufacturing process development while UCB will complete investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies, manufacturing, and clinical development for central nervous system diseases.

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