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Gene therapy drugs step toward approval in Japan

Posted on: 14 November 2018, source: Nikkei Asia
Novartis has applied with Japanese authorities to have a gene therapy drug approved, a move that could give Japan at least two such drugs in the coming year, Nikkei has learned. The Switzerland-based pharmaceutical hopes to receive the all-clear in Japan for a neurological disorder treatment sometime next year. It has also applied for approval for the same drug in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., the drug is said to be prohibitively expensive -- as much as $4 million to $5 million per patient. The drug treats spinal muscular atrophy, and Novartis expects to be able to market the treatment as early as next year.

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Infectivity of adeno-associated virus serotypes in mouse testis

Posted on: 7 November 2018, source: BMC Biotechnology
In a recent study, researchers from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (InStem), Bengaluru, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, Christian Medical College, Vellore and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, have described how a type of virus, called adeno-associated virus, behaves when injected into the mouse testis. The findings of the study, supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and InStem were published in the journal BMC Biotechnology.

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FDA Lifts Clinical Hold; Green-Lights Vertex and CRISPR’s Sickle Cell Gene Therapy Trial

Posted on: 14 October 2018, source: BioSpace
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has lifted a clinical hold and accepted an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) for an experimental sickle cell disease treatment being co-developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics. In May the FDA placed a hold on the trial and IND for CTX001, an investigational gene editing treatment, citing concerns over questions that had not been addressed in the IND. The two companies initially submitted the IND in April in support of a planned Phase I/II trial.

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Screening Clinical Cell Products for Replication Competent Retrovirus: The National Gene Vector Biorepository Experience

Posted on: 17 September 2018, source: Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev
Replication-competent retrovirus (RCR) is a safety concern for individuals treated with retroviral gene therapy. RCR detection assays are used to detect RCR in manufactured vector, transduced cell products infused into research subjects, and in the research subjects after treatment. In this study, we reviewed 286 control (n = 4) and transduced cell products (n = 282) screened for RCR in the National Gene Vector Biorepository. The transduced cell samples were submitted from 14 clinical trials. All vector products were previously shown to be negative for RCR prior to use in cell transduction. After transduction, all 282 transduced cell products were negative for RCR. In addition, 241 of the clinical trial participants were also screened for RCR by analyzing peripheral blood at least 1 month after infusion, all of which were also negative for evidence of RCR infection. The majority of vector products used in the clinical trials were generated in the PG13 packaging cell line. The findings suggest that screening of the retroviral vector product generated in PG13 cell line may be sufficient and that further screening of transduced cells does not provide added value.

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European Commission Approves Novartis’ Kymriah CAR-T Cell Therapy

Posted on: 29 August 2018, source: Novartis
Novartis announced that the European Commission (EC) approved its chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) cell therapy Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) for the treatment of pediatric and young adult patients up to 25 years of age with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) after two or more lines of systemic therapy.

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Health Officials Remove Special NIH Oversite Rules Governing Gene Therapy Experiments

Posted on: 20 August 2018, source: BioSpace
As gene therapies have become reality, the U.S. government is removing some special regulations that had been set up long ago over concerns of exotic safety risks. The Associated Press reported that a National Institutes of Health oversight panel will no longer be called upon to review all gene therapy applications. That panel will now take a broader advisory role, the AP said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now look at gene therapy treatments as it down all other types of medications.

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FDA Seeks to Enhance Manufacturing of Cell and Gene Therapies

Posted on: 3 August 2018, source: Biopharma International
More consistent and reliable production processes are critical for advancing innovative treatments. While cell- and gene-therapy products hold the promise of transforming the treatment of many diseases, difficulties in achieving consistent process control could stymie advancement in this field, cautions Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). It’s “not simple” to bring a clinical production process to commercial scale, he says, voicing fears that important manufacturing issues could hinder efforts to advance new discoveries able to transform medical care.

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New EU initiatives to optimize the interplay between the Pharma and the GMO framework

Posted on: 18 July 2018, source: European Commission
The EU's Regulation on advanced therapies, is designed to ensure the free movement of advanced therapy products within Europe, to facilitate access to the EU market, and to foster the competitiveness of European companies in the field, while guaranteeing the highest level of health protection for patients. A Good Practice document on the assessment of GMO-related aspects in the context of clinical trials with human cells genetically modified has been developed by the national competent authorities and the Commission services.

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Caution required for using CRISPR/Cas9 in potential gene therapies

Posted on: 18 July 2018, source: Innovation Toronto
Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute have discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can cause greater genetic damage in cells than was previously thought. These results create safety implications for gene therapies using CRISPR/Cas9 in the future as the unexpected damage could lead to dangerous changes in some cells. Reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the study also revealed that standard tests for detecting DNA changes miss finding this genetic damage, and that caution and specific testing will be required for any potential gene therapies.

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First cohort enrolled in trial with innovative gene therapy for arthritis

Posted on: 18 July 2018, source: Arthrogen
Arthrogen, a clinical stage gene therapy company together with the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR), a Leiden based independent clinical research organization, announced that the first three arthritis patients have been enrolled in a phase Ib gene therapy trial for treatment of arthritis with ART-I02. ART-I02 is an adeno-associated virus (AAV5) vector encoding the human IFN-β gene under control of an inflammation-responsive promoter. ART-I02 is designed to produce the anti-inflammatory protein IFN-β in the synovial cells in the joint. The aim is to achieve a sustained clinical remission with a single treatment. This current clinical phase Ib trial, evaluates the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, immunogenicity and anti-inflammatory activity of ART-I02 treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA). In total 12 patients with RA or OA in their hand joints will be included. Parallel to this study, a similar phase Ib trial has started in Canada treating 15 patients with RA in their wrist.

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FDA Aims to Facilitate Gene Therapy Development for Hemophilia, Rare Diseases

Posted on: 13 July 2018, source: Pharmacy & Healthcare
Significant progress has been made in gene therapy research and development over the years, with promise to treat and cure some of the most complex diseases. In a statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, announced the agency’s latest efforts to speed up the path to approval for gene therapies, specifically for certain specialty and rare diseases. To help expedite advancement in the field, the FDA has released a new policy framework for the development, review, and approval of gene therapies to address the challenges of bringing these drugs to market.

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New UK consortium looks to make breakthrough in gene therapy manufacture

Posted on: 3 July 2018, source: Biopharma-reporter
Plasticell, alongside Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Institute of Child Health, have announced they will collaborate to develop technology to better develop and manufacture gene therapies. Full story.

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Gene-Therapy Company Crispr Drops as FDA Puts Trial on Hold

Posted on: 10 June 2018, source: Bloomberg
Crispr Therapeutics AG plunged after the gene-editing company said a planned trial of its treatment to help people with sickle-cell disease was being put on hold by U.S. regulators. Crispr is developing the therapy with Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., and the trial had yet to begin. The companies said in a statement Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration placed a halt on the experiment until the agency could get more information from the companies.

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A Harvard startup is using gene therapy to reverse ageing in dogs, humans are next

Posted on: 14 May 2018, source: Moneycontrol.com
In order to achieve the objective to “have the body and mind of a 22-year-old but the experience of a 130-year-old,” a Harvard professor backed startup is planning to rejuvenate dogs using gene therapy. And, if results are positive, the same approach could be used in humans. Rejuvenate Bio, co-founded by George Church of Harvard Medical School, has already carried out age-defying tests on beagles and claims it will make animals “younger" by adding new DNA instructions to their bodies.

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Latest Up and Coming Gene Therapies

Posted on: 8 May 2018, source: GEN
Gene therapy’s numbers look promising. In a year full of biopharma mergers and acquisitions, one of the biggest deals has been Novartis’ planned $8.7 billion purchase of AveXis, whose lead candidate AVXS-101 has advanced into a pivotal trial following positive Phase I data published in November in The New England Journal of Medicine. Additional figures furnished to GEN by Informa show the extent of gene-therapy development: Informa Pharma Intelligence’s Trialtrove database records 729 gene therapies as having been developed, of which nearly two-thirds (461) were preclinical. Those therapies have been assessed in 1,855 clinical trials, most in early phases: 657 in Phase I, 509 in Phase I/II, and 455 in Phase II. As for later development, 89 have reached Phase III, 32 are in Phase II/III, and 28 in Phase IV.

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Gene therapy for beta-thalassemia safe, effective in people

Posted on: 19 April 2018, source: EurekAlert
In a powerful example of bench-to-bedside science showing how observations made in the lab can spark life-altering therapies in clinic, an international team of clinician-investigators has announced that gene therapy for patients with a severe form of the blood disorder beta-thalassemia can be safe and effective. Led by study director Philippe Leboulch, MD, a sponsored collaborator in Brigham and Women's Hospital's Division of Genetics and lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School, the research team reports that a one-time treatment with the gene therapy known as LentiGlobin BB305 vector reduced or eliminated the need for blood transfusions in 22 patients with severe beta-thalassemia. The team's results are published in the April 19 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

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13-Year-Old Boy Is First Person in US to Receive Newly Approved Gene Therapy for Blindness

Posted on: 22 March 2018, source: Gizmodo
On Tuesday, a 13-year-old boy from New Jersey was at the center of medical history as he became the first person in the US to receive an FDA-approved gene therapy for an inherited disease. The event marks the beginning of a new era of medicine, one in which devastating genetic conditions that we are born with can be simply edited out of our DNA with the help of modern biomedical technologies. The therapy, Luxturna, from Spark Therepeutics, was approved by the FDA in December to treat a rare, inherited form of blindness. Its price tag, set at $850,000—or $425,000 per eye—made it the most expensive drug in the US and sparked mass sticker-shock. But the therapy, which in high-profile clinical trials has allowed patients to see the stars for the first times, also offered the almost miraculous possibility of giving sight to the blind.

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Gene therapy found safe in trial of Pompe disease treatment

Posted on: 22 February 2018, source: UPI news
The first human trial of gene therapy to treat respiratory problems in early-onset Pompe disease of children was found safe, according to health researchers in Florida. University of Florida Health scientists conducted a successful trial of nine participants who had the incurable disease, which damages muscle and nerve cells throughout the body. Results of the treatment, which utilizes an adeno-associated virus, were published in the journal Human Gene Therapy Clinical Development.

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High-dose AAV gene therapy appears toxic in monkeys and piglets

Posted on: 6 February 2018, source: Science
A gene therapy trial that recently led to dramatic benefits for babies born with a fatal neuromuscular condition has raised hopes for using a similar approach to treat other diseases. But a new animal study suggests that the high doses (2x10E14 genome copies per kilogram body weight) of gene-carrying viruses used in such treatments may not always be as safe as the human clinical trial indicated. In the new research, the disclosure of which briefly sent the stock prices of several gene therapy companies plummeting yesterday, researchers injected a handful of young monkeys and pigs with many copies of adeno-associated virus 9 (AAV9), a normally harmless virus that infects neurons and is increasingly being used to ferry therapeutic genes into cells to treat neuromuscular diseases. Within days, some of the animals developed severe liver and neuron damage.

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Chinese scientists used Crispr gene editing on 86 human patients

Posted on: 25 January 2018, source: qz.com
China is taking the lead in the global race to perfect gene therapies. Scientists have genetically engineered the cells of at least 86 cancer and HIV patients in the country using Crispr-Cas9 technology since 2015, the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall). Although no formal scientific papers have been written about these experiments, doctors told journalists at the WSJ that some patients have improved. There have also been at least 15 deaths, although only about half of them were reportedly related to the gene therapy itself. These therapies, which involved taking the immune cells from hospital patients, editing the cells, and transfusing them back into the body, are the first to use Crispr-Cas9 in living humans.

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Gene Therapy For Rare Forms Of Blindness Will Cost Nearly Half A Million Per Eye

Posted on: 4 January 2018, source: IFLScience
The pharmaceutical company behind a gene therapy for inherited blindness has announced the product’s price, and sticker shock has sent news outlets worldwide into a collective tizzy. Spark Therapeutics plans to charge $425,000 per eye for the therapy, called Luxturna, making it the most expensive drug ever marketed in the US. The landmark FDA approval of Luxturna in December 2017 represented the first approval of a gene therapy for an inherited condition, and only the third-ever approval of a gene therapy.

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Gene therapy shows 'mind-blowing' success in treating haemophilia A

Posted on: 19 December 2017, source: BioNews
A new gene therapy for haemophilia A has exceeded expectations in a recent clinical trial. All seven patients who received the high-dose therapy to correct a faulty gene for a crucial blood clotting protein showed considerable improvement. 'This is huge,' Professor John Pasi, who led the trial at Barts and Queen Mary University of London told the BBC. He added that having 'the option to think about normalising levels' of the blood clotting protein factor VIII in patients with severe haemophilia was 'mind-blowing'. Gene therapy could be a potential 'cure' for haemophilia, suggested an editorial accompanying the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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FDA warns against ‘do it yourself’ gene therapy kits

Posted on: 28 November 2017, source: Bizjournals
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a stern warning against the use of “do it yourself” gene therapy kits, pushing back against a nascent “biohacker” movement that seeks to make experimental medicines and technologies available to the masses, often by circumventing regulators. A statement posted on the FDA’s website on Tuesday cautions that it is illegal to sell gene therapy products and kits intended for self-administration. Gene therapy involves inserting new, healthy genes into cells to cure diseases that are caused by faulty genes. The FDA has classified gene editing — cutting out and replacing parts of faulty genes — as a form of gene therapy. A host of local biotechs, including Cambridge-based Editas Medicine (Nasdaq: EDIT), are seeking to develop such treatments.

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Alarmed by Recent Events, Scientists Speak Out Against DIY Gene Therapy

Posted on: 13 December 2017, source: Gizmodo
It seems hard to fathom that scientific progress has advanced to a point where it’s suddenly possible for people to undertake something as complicated as gene therapy outside the safety and confines of a well-funded lab, but it has. In just the past few months we’ve seen not one, but two examples of people pursuing unregulated gene therapy. That’s right, people are genetically modifying their bodies in DIY labs and friend’s apartments. Now, the largest organization of scientists who work in gene and cell therapy have come out against DIY gene therapies. A statement from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy comes on the heels of a stern warning against DIY gene therapy from the US Food and Drug Administration. For years, when it came to biohacking, regulators and establishment science have mainly looked the other way. That seems to be changing.

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First gene-editing attempted in human body to cure disease

Posted on: 21 November 2017, source: The Telegraph
Doctors have edited a patient's genes in a world-first attempt to alter DNA from within the human body. Medics in California administered the experimental intravenous treatment, which provides the body with instructions to change DNA, on Brian Madeux, who suffers from Hunter's syndrome. People with Hunter's syndrome are unable to break down long sugary molecules called mucopolysaccharides. This leads to the molecules building up and causing brain and organ damage, and in severe cases it can be fatal. Sufferers require regular enzyme replacement therapy to break down the molecules, but Mr Madeux said he opted to take part in a trial as he is "in pain every second of the day". The 44-year-old from Arizona underwent the treatment at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, California on Monday.

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Gene therapy helps a boy get new skin

Posted on: 21 November 2017, source: Biothin.Asia
A medical team at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum’s burn unit and the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Modena (Italy) were the first ever to successfully treat a child suffering from extensive skin damage using transplants derived from genetically modified stem cells. The boy is a so-called butterfly child: he suffers from epidermolysis bullosa, a genetic skin disease that had destroyed approximately 80 percent of his epidermis. After all established therapies had failed, the medical team from Bochum decided to try an experimental approach: they transplanted skin derived from genetically modified stem cells onto the wound surfaces. Thanks to the successful therapy, the boy is now – two years after the treatment – able to participate in his family’s life and social life. The scientists published their report in “Nature”.

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Gene Therapy in Recurrent Glioma Shows Promise in Early Trial

Posted on: 7 November 2017, source: CancerNetwork
More than 25% of patients with recurrent, high-grade glioma treated with a gene therapy combination were alive more than 3 years after treatment, according to data from a subset of patients in a phase I clinical trial presented at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, held October 26–30 in Philadelphia. The combination treatment involved the retroviral vector Toca 511 and the prodrug of the chemotherapy 5-fluorouracil (Toca FC). Toca 511 is a replicating virus that only infects actively dividing tumor cells. Once inside the cancer cell, the virus delivers a gene for an enzyme, cytosine deaminase (CD). As the virus replicates and spreads to other cancer cells, it programs them to make CD. Next, patients receive a pill, Toca FC, which is an inert compound. Once inside the cancer cell, CD converts Toca FC into the anticancer drug 5-fluorouracil, which kills the cancer cell. 5-fluorouracil also kills certain immune suppressive myeloid cells, boosting the patient’s immune system to recognize and attack the cancer cells.

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FDA approves a game-changing treatment for blood cancer

Posted on: 20 October 2017, source: StatNews
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a promising new treatment for a particularly deadly form of cancer, bringing hope to desperate patients while rekindling a global conversation about the escalating cost of new therapies. The treatment, made by Gilead Sciences, is made by extracting patients’ white blood cells and re-engineering them to home in on tumors. Called a CAR-T, the one-time treatment has shown unprecedented results for patients with dire diagnoses. Gilead’s treatment, to be sold as Yescarta, is the second CAR-T to win FDA approval but the first cleared for use in adults. A similar therapy from Novartis, approved in August, is used for children with an aggressive form of blood cancer.

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FDA experts offer a unanimous endorsement for pioneering gene therapy for blindness

Posted on: 13 October 2017, source: ScienceMag
A pioneering AAV gene therapy from Spark Therapeutics took a giant stride toward an FDA approval yesterday as an outside panel of experts offered their support for getting this game-changing treatment into the market after looking over the data and hearing from some of the severely sight-impaired patients whose lives had been transformed by this therapy. The vote was 16 to 0 favoring the benefit-risk profile of the drug, backing an OK for voretigene neparvovec by the agency’s Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee and providing a compelling reason for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to follow through with an historic first U.S. approval of a vector-delivered gene therapy.

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DNA surgery on embryos removes disease

Posted on: 5 October 2017, source: BBC News
Precise "chemical surgery" has been performed on human embryos to remove disease in a world first, Chinese researchers have told the BBC. The team at Sun Yat-sen University used a technique called base editing to correct a single error out of the three billion "letters" of our genetic code. They altered lab-made embryos to remove the disease beta-thalassemia. The embryos were not implanted. The team says the approach may one day treat a range of inherited diseases.

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