Boehringer Ingelheim, the UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium, Imperial Innovations and Oxford BioMedica announce new partnership to develop first-in-class gene therapy for cystic fibrosis

Boehringer IngelheimBoehringer Ingelheim, the UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium (GTC) - consisting of Imperial College London and the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh - Imperial Innovations, and Oxford BioMedica (OXB) announce a global collaboration to develop a first-in-class, long-term therapy for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The new partnership brings together the academic partners' leading expertise in developing gene therapy for CF and OXB's leading expertise in manufacturing lentiviral vector-based therapies with Boehringer Ingelheim's capabilities in drug discovery and the clinical development of novel breakthrough therapeutic agents.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and usually limits a person’s ability to breathe over time. There are more than 2,000 known mutations in the gene for the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), many of which result in a person developing CF. The disease is estimated to affect 70,000 people worldwide, with the majority of those located in the US and Europe. Existing treatments and those under development can only slow the progression of disease. As such, CF continues to be associated with considerable morbidity, mortality, and a high burden of therapy. In addition, existing treatments will have varying effects depending on a patient’s mutation status, as determined by the particular gene variation that causes their disease. Thus, there is a critical unmet need for therapies that address all CFTR mutations; gene therapy has the potential to provide such a solution.

The collaboration will focus on a novel approach using a replication-deficient lentiviral vector in an inhaled formulation, to introduce a healthy copy of the CFTR gene into the cells of the lung. This method has demonstrated high gene transfer efficiency and offers the possibility of repeated administration to maintain the therapeutic effect. Gene therapy is the only therapeutic approach to date that can address all CFTR gene mutations, thus potentially offering a universal treatment option.

Professor Eric Alton, Coordinator of the UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium, said "The UK CF Gene Therapy Consortium has, for the last 17 years, vigorously sought to establish whether gene therapy can become a clinically viable option for patients with CF. From the beginning the GTC identified that this goal would require incremental increases in knowledge. We have, therefore, built on our non-viral gene therapy experience to develop a new viral vector-based product, which is currently funded by the Health Innovation Challenge Fund (a partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health and Social Care) and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. It is with great pleasure that we now join forces with two world-class organisations. Boehringer Ingelheim will provide its multinational industry expertise, including a rich heritage in the respiratory field, to drive the product towards the clinic, whilst Oxford BioMedica is the acknowledged leader in the field of lentiviral vector manufacturing. The GTC believes that this partnership provides CF patients with the optimal chance to establish gene therapy as routine clinical practice, relevant to all patients, irrespective of their mutation status, and in due course to both prevent lung disease as well as treat established problems. We would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all of our fundraisers who have supported us over many years."

"This novel three-way partnership brings together an unparalleled combination of clinical, scientific, manufacturing and commercial skills in an effort to develop new treatments and make a major contribution to the lives of patients affected by cystic fibrosis," stated John Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford BioMedica. "The GTC has been working determinedly for over 15 years to get to this exciting point of forming a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, a global pharmaceutical company with respiratory expertise. Our contribution to this partnership reaffirms our leading position in the development and manufacturing of lentiviral vector gene therapy products at large scale. We look forward to working with our new academic and industry partners."

"Through this collaboration, we are joining forces with some of the top talents in this disease space to propel treatment advances forward," said Clive R. Wood, Ph.D., Senior Corporate Vice President, Discovery Research at Boehringer Ingelheim. "Bringing together our existing expertise as a leader for nearly a century in the discovery and development of therapies that have advanced patient care in respiratory diseases with the gene therapy knowledge of our partners, we aim to unlock unprecedented opportunities for patients with this devastating disease, who are desperately waiting for better treatment options."

Boehringer Ingelheim has received an option to license the exclusive global rights to develop, manufacture, register, and commercialise this lentiviral vector-based gene therapy for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. Financial terms are not disclosed. During the option period the partners will work closely together to pursue the development of this innovative approach financed by Boehringer Ingelheim. The new collaboration is a joint initiative of Boehringer Ingelheim's Respiratory Therapeutic Area and Research Beyond Borders (RBB), which is one of the pillars of Boehringer Ingelheim’s research and development strategy and explores emerging science, disease areas and technology. It builds on Boehringer Ingelheim's commitment to early science and its comprehensive approach to respiratory research and development to investigate new treatments that have significant clinical value in areas of high unmet need.

Andrew Tingey, Director of Healthcare Licensing at Imperial Innovations said, "The UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium shows the power of world-class academic groups collaborating to develop advanced potential therapies. We were delighted to have been chosen as the technology transfer partner for the GTC and have worked closely with them during the development of this potential new gene therapy, securing the intellectual property necessary to drive forward its commercial development and to support the collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim and Oxford BioMedica. The combination of expertise and resources realised by this deal will give the project a unique opportunity to develop an advanced therapy that could significantly impact the lives of thousands of people living with cystic fibrosis, and we are delighted to have played the lead role in securing this partnership."

About Boehringer Ingelheim

Improving the health and quality of life of patients is the goal of the research-driven pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. The focus in doing so is on diseases for which no satisfactory treatment option exists to date. The company therefore concentrates on developing innovative therapies that can improve patients’ lives. In animal health, Boehringer Ingelheim stands for advanced prevention.

Family-owned since it was established in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s top 20 companies. Some 50,000 employees create value through innovation daily for the three business areas human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceuticals. In 2017, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of nearly 18.1 billion euros. R&D expenditure, exceeding three billion euros, corresponded to 17.0 per cent of net sales.

As a family-owned company, Boehringer Ingelheim plans in generations and focuses on long-term success. The company therefore aims at organic growth from its own resources with simultaneous openness to partnerships and strategic alliances in research. In everything it does, Boehringer Ingelheim naturally adopts responsibility towards mankind and the environment.

About UK Gene Therapy Consortium

The UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium (GTC) comprises Imperial College London and the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh. In 2001, the groups joined together as one organisation to share expertise and funding with a single common goal of making gene therapy for CF patients a clinical reality. The GTC has undertaken six non-viral Phase 1/2a proof-of-concept studies and the first Phase 2b gene therapy trial for CF, which met its primary outcome. In parallel, it has developed the novel lentiviral vector which is the subject of the current tripartite agreement.

About Imperial Innovations

Imperial Innovations is the Technology Transfer Office for Imperial College London, one of the UK's leading universities. With a focus on societal and economic impact, Imperial Innovations develops and commercialises technologies developed by Imperial academics via intellectual property protection, technology licensing, and spinout formation & incubation. Combining a deep understanding of science and technology with commercial acumen and a wide professional network, Innovations is able to gain insight into a technology's potential and identify the best route to market.

The company also provides technology transfer services to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Foundation Trust, London North West Healthcare NHS Trust. In addition, Innovations has been chosen to run the Imperial White City Incubator, based in the Translation & Innovation Hub at Imperial’s new White City Campus, providing early-stage companies with advice, training, and practical support in their first years.

About Health Innovation Challenge Fund

The Health Innovation Challenge Fund is a parallel funding partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health to stimulate the creation of innovative healthcare products, technologies and interventions and to facilitate their development for the benefit of patients in the NHS and beyond.

About Oxford BioMedica®

Oxford BioMedica (LSE: OXB) is a leading gene and cell therapy group focused on developing life changing treatments for serious diseases. Oxford BioMedica and its subsidiaries (the "Group") have built a sector leading lentiviral vector delivery platform (LentiVector®), which the Group leverages to develop in vivo and ex vivo products both in-house and with partners. The Group has created a valuable proprietary portfolio of gene and cell therapy product candidates in the areas of oncology, ophthalmology and CNS disorders. The Group has also entered into a number of partnerships, including with Novartis, Bioverativ, Sanofi, Axovant, Orchard Therapeutics, GC LabCell and Immune Design, through which it has long-term economic interests in other potential gene and cell therapy products. Oxford BioMedica is based across several locations in Oxfordshire, UK and employs more than 320 people.

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