Gene therapy centre to open in France next year

Genethon BioProd to produce 20 clinical batches of gene therapy products a year

A €28m production centre for gene therapy products will open its doors in 2011 at Evry, France.

The aim of the Genethon BioProd centre is to further the progress of gene therapy through the large-scale production of vector medicines, which are derived from a virus and used to transport the gene medicine into the patient’s cells, with the aim of restoring them to a fully functioning state.

Genethon BioProd will produce gene therapy vectors of the right calibre and in quantities sufficient to undertake phase I and II clinical trials. The centre has more than 5,000m2 of space dedicated to the bioproduction and monitoring of gene therapy products.

The first vector-medicines will be produced at the centre by the end of 2011. The aim is to produce 20 clinical batches a year for trials in France and abroad.

Genethon BioProd has been financed by the French Muscular Distrophy Association (AFM) with the support of the French Telethon initiative, the Ile de France Regional Council, the Essonne Regional Council and Genepole Evry.

Genethon chief executive Frédéric Revah said: ‘This is the result of 20 years of research excellence at Genethon. Genethon Bioprod meets the needs of researchers undertaking gene therapy trials in people for rare diseases, and will enable patients to benefit more quickly from customised treatments.’

AFM and Genethon president Laurence Tiennot-Herment added: ‘Genethon Bioprod’s ambition is to open and have fully functioning the largest production centre of gene therapy products so as to accelerate trials in humans. Having decoded the human genome, understood how a number of diseases actually function and brought on new treatments, Genethon BioProd is bringing science and medicine to the frontiers of treatment.’

Once the site becomes fully operational, AFM will provide more than €8m a year to finance the lab teams and the operation of the vector-medicine production laboratory.