$76 million over 5 years to be invested
The National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 10 pharmaceutical companies and 5 non-profit organizations have partnered to accelerate development of gene therapies for the 30 million Americans who suffer from a rare disease.
While there are approximately 7,000 rare diseases, only two heritable diseases currently have FDA-approved gene therapies. The newly launched Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium (BGTC), part of the NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) program and project-managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), aims to optimize and streamline the gene therapy development process to help fill the unmet medical needs of people with rare diseases.
“Most rare diseases are caused by a defect in a single gene that could potentially be targeted with a customized or ‘bespoke’ therapy that corrects or replaces the defective gene,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “There are now significant opportunities to improve the complex development process for gene therapies that would accelerate scientific progress and, most importantly, provide benefit to patients by increasing the number of effective gene therapies.”
A single rare disease affects small numbers of people, but rare diseases collectively affect millions. Most rare inherited diseases stem from a specific gene mutation that is already known, making gene therapy a promising therapeutic approach. However, gene therapy development for rare diseases is highly complex, time consuming and expensive. Moreover, the development process is stymied by limited access to tools and technologies, lack of standards across the field, and a one-disease-at-a-time approach to therapeutic development. A standardized therapeutic development model that includes a common gene delivery technology (a vector) could allow for a more efficient approach to specific gene therapies, saving time and cost.
A clinical component of BGTC-funded research will support between four and six clinical trials, each focused on a different rare disease. These diseases are expected to be rare, single-gene diseases with no gene therapies or commercial programs in development and that already have substantial groundwork in place to rapidly initiate preclinical and clinical studies. The trials will employ different types of AAV vectors that have been used before in clinical trials. For these trials, the BGTC will aim to shorten the path from studies in animal models of disease to human clinical trials.
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SOURCE: NIH News Releases, October 27, 2021
NIH, FDA and 15 private organizations join forces to increase effective gene therapies for rare diseases
National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland USA