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The UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium, Boehringer Ingelheim, Imperial Innovations and Oxford BioMedica Announce New Partnership to Develop First-In-Class Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis

As many of you will know, the UK CF Gene Therapy Consortium (GTC) has brought together teams at Imperial College London and the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh to vigorously pursue a single goal for the last 17 years, namely to establish whether gene therapy can become a clinically viable option for patients with CF. This form of treatment needs new copies of the CF gene to be introduced into the cells lining the lung, which is hard to achieve because these cells have evolved to keep external molecules out. The CF gene has to be carried past these defences, achievable either by surrounding it with fat (liposomes) or by inserting the CF gene inside a viral vector. Because of these defences, the GTC anticipated that successful gene therapy would require us to investigate several products, with incremental increases in knowledge helping us to overcome these barriers. We introduced the terms Wave 1 (the best liposome available at that time), and Wave 2 (the best viral vector we believe is currently available).

Supported by the CF community, and thereby predominantly funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, we developed the Wave 1 product (the CF gene delivered via a liposome). Subsequently, funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) programme, we were able for the first time to demonstrate a significant benefit in lung function compared with placebo in the world’s largest CF gene therapy trial. Since the trial ended, we have spent considerable time presenting the product to the pharmaceutical industry, as it is these companies who have the resources to carry it through to the next step. The consistent response was that whilst they are impressed with the data, they wish to see a higher level of efficacy (which was slightly less than that produced by Orkambi). This boost could be produced by increasing the dose, increasing the dosing frequency, or trying a different type of liposome. We are exploring these possibilities and if this can be achieved, we will reopen these negotiations with a view to supporting a further clinical trial.

In parallel, we have been working for over a decade with a Japanese biotechnology company (DNAVEC, now called ID Pharma), building on knowledge from the Wave 1 programme, and have developed an alternative viral vector to deliver the CF gene (Wave 2 product). Support from the MRC DPFS programme and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has brought this product to a stage where it can now undergo toxicology testing and larger-scale manufacturing; we have also recently received funding from the Health Innovation Challenge Fund, a collaboration between the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health and Social Care, to undertake the next steps. We would also like to take this opportunity to warmly thank all of our supporters over many years, including Just Gene Therapy and Flutterby FUNdraisers.

It is now with great pleasure and excitement that we can add the next piece of the puzzle. The GTC is joining forces with two world class organisations in a major collaboration. We will work in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, who are an internationally renowned ‘big pharma’ company with substantial expertise in bringing products through to patients, including in the respiratory field, and also with Oxford BioMedica who are the acknowledged leaders in the field of manufacturing the type of virus we have established as our Wave 2 product. The three partners are coming together to translate the Wave 2 product into clinical trials, and if successful, into routine clinical practice.

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. Importantly, we can of course offer no guarantee of success, building this programme will not happen overnight and the therapy will only be focused on the problems occurring in the lungs.

We believe this new partnership of three world leading organisations has the greatest chance of realising a parallel new therapeutic pathway for CF patients, and better still, one that will add to the improvements already being seen with small molecule treatments. The gene therapy may have additional benefits: currently we envisage the effect of a single dose lasting for many months or even longer and it is unlikely that gene therapy will suffer from drug-drug interactions. We will regularly update on progress on this website as this exciting programme now unfolds.

2 years ago

Gene Therapy Funding Update

LV_diagram.jpgThe UKCFGTC is pleased to announce that we have received £2.7M to undertake a Phase l/lla nose trial in CF patients using our Wave 2 product, delivering the CFTR gene using a novel lentivirus. This latest support, which builds on many years of gene therapy funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), has been awarded by the Wellcome Trust/Department of Health’s Health Innovation Challenge Fund (HICF).

At the same time the Cystic Fibrosis Trust have awarded an additional £0.5M to continue to support the scientific work underpinning this latest trial over the next two years.

We aim to recruit 24 patients into the Phase l/lla nose trial which will last around 9 months. The study will assess safety, and any changes in molecular endpoints, to provide evidence for the efficacy of the lentivirus. The start point of the trial will depend on the time required for manufacture of the Wave 2 product for clinical delivery; we will further update on timelines once these manufacturing data are available.

We are now focusing our research and development efforts on Wave 2, which has proved to be considerably more efficient than the Wave 1 product (delivering the CFTR gene via liposomes). However, the latter, which led to a stabilisation of lung function significantly different to the decline seen in a placebo group, continues to be discussed with potential commercial partners. We will update further on the outcome of these discussions as soon as possible.


3 years ago

Consortium Gene Therapy Clinical Trial Results Published

trialCake.jpgThe Consortium are pleased to announce the publication of the results from our multi dose gene therapy clinical trial in Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

One hundred and thirty six patients aged 12 and above were randomly assigned to either 5ml of nebulised pGM169/GL67A (gene therapy) or saline (placebo) at monthly intervals over 1 year. Lung function was evaluated using a common clinical measure FEV1.

The clinical trial reached its primary endpoint with patients who received therapy having a significant, if modest benefit in lung function compared with those receiving a placebo. After a year of treatment, in the 62 patients who received the gene therapy, FEV1 was 3.7% greater compared to placebo.

The trial is the first ever to show that repeated doses of a gene therapy can have a meaningful effect on the disease and change the lung function of patients.

More details here.

5 years ago

About Us

The Consortium groups are based in three of the leading UK universities. Prior to the formation of the Consortium each group had conducted at least one clinical trial for gene therapy. Therefore, our researchers have been at the forefront of this field for over 20 years.

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Our research is focussed on the development of gene therapies for CF. Taking research ideas from the lab to the clinic is beyond the reach of most academic groups. The Consortium is different as we have aligned our different groups to focus on their key talents to ensure that we continue to progress.

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Since 2004 UKCFGTC members have published over 100 papers in peer reviewed journals and have presented many posters and presentations at international conferences. Where possible we will provide pdfs of publications. However, most of our conference posters and presentations are available.

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