Wednesday, Mar 3, 1993
South San Francisco, Calif. -- March 3, 1993 --Genentech, Inc. (NYSE: GNE) today announced its collaboration with GenVec, a newly formed biotechnology company that will develop gene therapy medications for cystic fibrosis and other serious diseases. The transaction could involve payments by Genentech of up to $17 million in research support, milestone payments and future equity investments.
Genentech will retain worldwide marketing rights to any gene therapy product developed for cystic fibrosis.
GenVec's founder and chief scientific advisor is Ronald Crystal, M.D., former chief of the Pulmonary Branch of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and, as of April 1, 1993, intends to become chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center. GenVec's research will advance beyond Crystal's pioneering work in gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.
"Genentech's collaboration with GenVec marks another milestone in our long-term commitment to research and development in cystic fibrosis," said G. Kirk Raab, Genentech's president and chief executive officer. "We succeeded in discovering and developing Pulmozyme [(dornase alfa) DNase], which has been shown to reduce respiratory infection and improve lung function in cystic fibrosis patients, and now we are collaborating with GenVec on the most promising gene therapy effort in cystic fibrosis."
In December, for prior research done at the NIH, Dr. Crystal's NIH team received approval from the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) for a human protocol to test a first-generation adenoviral-based delivery system in cystic fibrosis patients using a disabled version of the adenovirus that causes the common cold. This in-vivo approach of direct gene delivery to the lung is considered a major breakthrough compared to the ex-vivo approach, in which some of a patient's cells would have to be removed for treatment and then returned to the body.
After leaving the NIH, Dr. Crystal's research for GenVec and Genentech will focus on direct in-vivo gene therapy for cystic fibrosis involving improved second-generation delivery systems for implanting a normal, healthy version of the defective CF gene into the lung cells of patients suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease among Caucasians, affecting approximately 30,000 Americans, nearly 3,000 Canadians, and 20,000 Europeans. Many of these patients are children. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease in which a faulty gene causes thick lung secretions and leads to impaired breathing, frequent lung infections and continual degeneration of lung function as well as difficulty digesting and absorbing food. The median survival age for cystic fibrosis patients is 29 years.
GenVec is a private company. It will be headquartered in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Genentech, Inc. is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufacturers and markets human pharmaceuticals for significant medical needs. The company has headquarters in South San Francisco, California and is traded on the New York and Pacific Stock Exchanges under the symbol GNE.
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