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Avexis Receives FDA Approval For Zolgensma, First And Only Gene Therapy For Pediatric Patients With Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Posted on: 25 May 2019, source: Novartis
AveXis, a Novartis company, today announced the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zolgensma® (onasemnogene abeparvovec-xioi) for the treatment of pediatric patients less than 2 years of age with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) with bi-allelic mutations in the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. Zolgensma is designed to address the genetic root cause of SMA by providing a functional copy of the human SMN gene to halt disease progression through sustained SMN protein expression with a single, one-time intravenous (IV) infusion. Zolgensma is the first and only gene therapy approved by the FDA for the treatment of SMA, including those who are pre-symptomatic at diagnosis.

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NIH Streamlines Gene Therapy Oversight and Charts a Course for Considering Emerging Technology

Posted on: 26 April 2019, source: NIH
In August 2018, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a joint proposal to streamline duplicative and burdensome oversight over gene therapy. As part of this effort and following public input, NIH today released the amended NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules. The amendments remove the requirement to register and report on human gene therapy protocols under the NIH Guidelines to the NIH. Robust oversight continues under the FDA, which has regulatory oversight of all human gene therapy clinical trials. In addition, NIH-funded human gene therapy research remains subject to the usual NIH oversight that applies to all NIH-funded research, and oversight by local authorities such as Institutional Review Boards and Institutional Biosafety Committees.

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Novartis Says Baby's Death May Be Tied to Gene Therapy

Posted on: 24 April 2019, source: Bloomberg
Novartis AG said the death of a six-month-old baby in a study evaluating its experimental gene therapy Zolgensma was considered by the clinical trial investigator to be potentially related to the treatment. The death of the patient with a devastating disease known as spinal muscular atrophy occurred in a late-stage trial in Europe that’s still enrolling patients, the Swiss drugmaker said in an emailed statement. Initial findings show it involved a severe respiratory infection followed by neurological complications. The results of an autopsy are pending, and details have been reported to regulators, the company said.

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First gene therapy to treat rare blood disease nears European approval

Posted on: 2 April 2019, source: STATnews
The first gene therapy to treat a rare blood disorder is one step closer to approval Friday following a recommendation by European officials. Lentiglobin, the gene therapy for beta-thalassemia developed by Cambridge, Mass.-based Bluebird Bio, was recommended for approval by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), the drug-reviewing arm of the European Medicines Agency. A final approval decision is expected within the next three months.

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Should gene therapy patients be asked to pay?

Posted on: 28 March 2019, source: evaluate.com
The price in value-based payment deals should by definition be justified, so why is patient cost-sharing part of the calculation? Spark covers this cost, but there is no guarantee that all gene therapy companies will. As Novartis’s gene therapy Zolgensma nears a US FDA decision, the sector has only a vague idea of how much the Swiss group will charge for the spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) treatment, other than it will be a number followed by six zeroes. Just as importantly, the families with children suffering from this fatal condition do not know what, if anything, they will be asked to pay. However, there are some clues from the way in which the first US-approved gene therapy, Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna, was financed.

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New Gene Therapy Shows Promise For Patients With Sickle Cell Disease

Posted on: 9 March 2019, source: CBS News
An experimental and innovative type of gene therapy is being used to attempt to cure sickle cell anemia. The director of the National Institutes of Health says the results of an NIH clinical trial on a gene therapy for sickle cell anemia "looks like a cure" for the painful and often deadly genetic disease that affects 100,000 Americans, with nearly all being African Americans. 60 Minutes follows the trial for more than a year, focusing on a Florida woman who now appears to be rid of sickle cell anemia. Dr. Jon LaPook's report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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Gene Therapy Drug Approval to Skyrocket by 2025

Posted on: 16 January 2019, source: FDA
The FDA expects to approve 10 to 20 cell and gene therapy products a year within the next six years, and is hiring 50 more clinical reviewers to make it happen, the agency announced Jan. 15: "The FDA is witnessing a surge of cell and gene therapy products entering early development, evidenced by a large upswing in the number of investigational new drug (IND) applications. Based on this activity, we anticipate that the number of product approvals for cell and gene therapies will grow in the coming years, reflecting significant scientific advancement and the clinical promise of these new innovations."

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Gene therapy for Crigler-Najjar syndrome - First patient treated in the European clinical trial

Posted on: 25 December 2018, source: Eurekalerts
Following patient recruitment and preliminary observation period, the first patient was injected by Prof. Labrune at Beclere Hospital in Clamart, France. Genethon, the AFM-Telethon laboratory, is sponsoring this multicenter international phase I/II trial, injecting intravenously an AAV vector that is able to transfer the UGT1A1 gene (coding for the production of bilirubin GT) into liver cells. A total of 17 patients will be treated over the next few months.

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Chinese Researchers Claim to Have Genetically Engineered the First HIV-Immune Babies

Posted on: 28 November 2018, source: fortune.com
Researchers in China (Clinical project 'Safety and validity evaluation of HIV immune gene CCR5 gene editing in human embryos') used genetic engineering tools (CRISPR) to create twins theoretically immune to HIV, smallpox, and cholera, MIT Technology Review reported. The medical breakthrough is controversial, as many worry about eugenics and designer babies for the wealthy. The twins, named Lulu and Nana, according to lead scientist He Jiankui of Shenzhen in a YouTube video, were the result of in vitro fertilization (IVF). A few weeks old, they appear to be healthy. When they were a single cell, genetic surgery using a popular tool, CRISPR, “removed the doorway through which HIV enters to infect people.”

Watch the presentation of He Jiankui and discussion during Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hongkong, Wednesday November 28th, 2018.

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Spark Therapeutics' Luxturna Gets EU Approval for Vision Loss

Posted on: 26 November 2018, source: Nasdaq
Spark Therapeutics, Inc. announced that the European Commission has approved the marketing authorization application ("MAA") for its gene therapy, Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec). The MAA sought approval for the therapy in adult as well as pediatric patients as a one-time treatment for vision loss due to inherited retinal dystrophy caused by a genetic mutation in both copies of the RPE65-gene and who have enough viable retinal cells. The RPE65 mutations, a progressive disease, can lead to total blindness.

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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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