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UCB boosts gene therapy offering with a pair of new deals

Company will collaborate with Lacerta Therapeutics and acquire Handl Therapeutics

Belgium-headquartered UCB has strengthened its gene therapy capabilities with a pair of deals – a collaboration agreement with Lacerta Therapeutics and the acquisition of Handl Therapeutics.

Handl Therapeutics – based in Leuven, Belgium – specialises in adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid technology and has a focus on developing disease modifying gene therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

In addition to its own capabilities, Handl has built an international network to access expertise from a number of institutions. This includes platforms licensed from KU Leuven in Belgium, the Centre for Applied Medical Research in Spain, the University of Chile and King’s College London in the UK.

“UCB’s global footprint and scientific expertise in neurodegenerative diseases, coupled with our shared cultures of scientific advancement and commitment to patients, creates an exceptional environment in which we can accelerate the development of gene therapies and change patients’ lives,” said Florent Gros, founder and chief executive officer of Handl Therapeutics.

UCB did not disclose the financial terms of the acquisition, although it did add in a statement that the Handl team will continue to be based in Handl and will work closely with UCB’s international research team.

The Lacerta deal is focused on developing AAV-based therapies for patients with ‘a central nervous system disease with a high unmet need’. Like the Handl acquisition, UCB did not offer the financial details of the Lacerta research collaboration and licensing agreement.

Lacerta is set to lead research and preclinical activities as well as the early manufacturing process development, with UCB planning to lead IND-enabling studies, manufacturing and clinical development.

“UCB’s ambition for patients relies on our ability to innovate and deliver highly differentiated medicines,” said Dhavalkumar Patel, chief scientific officer of UCB.

“The acquisition of Handl Therapeutics and the new partnership with Lacerta Therapeutics offers us the potential to drive a fundamental change in how diseases are treated, by moving us from treating symptoms to disease modification and eventually towards a cure.” he added.

The Handl and Lacerta deals build on UCB’s previous acquisition of Element Genomics in 2018.

UCB paid $30m to access Element’s platform of technologies aimed at improving the understanding of genome structure and function – including CRISPR editing technologies used for genomic and epigenomic regulatory region analysis and modulation.

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Article by
Lucy Parsons

13th November 2020

From: Sales

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