Europe Nears First Approval for Gene Therapy Treatment

Posted: July 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm

News | Health

China was the first country to approve a gene therapy product for commercial use, in 2004. The U.S. has yet to endorse any such treatments and the field has been plagued by carcinogenicity

By Daniel Cressey and Nature magazine | July 23, 2012

Image: Flickr/hermida

From Nature magazine

Europes drugs regulator has for the first time recommended a gene therapy medicine for approval.

Glybera, a treatment for patients who cannot produce enough of an enzyme crucial for breaking down fat, was backed by the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). This recommendation has to be endorsed by the European Commission before it becomes available, but it would be unusual for the Commission to reject the recommendation.

Gene therapy involves transferring genes into patients to treat their diseases. In this case Glybera uses a virus injected into a patient to deliver a working copy of a gene for producing lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL deficiency affect no more than one or two people in a million.

Back in 2004 China became the first country to approve a gene therapy product for commercial use, with a treatment for cancer. But Europe and the United States have yet to endorse any gene therapy treatments and the field has been plagued by issues such as carcinogenicity.

Jrn Aldag, chief executive of uniQure, the Amsterdam-based company that owns Glybera, says todays announcement from the EMA is an overdue signal to the gene therapy community that things are changing. It unlocks the potential, he told Nature. You will see more investment coming.

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Europe Nears First Approval for Gene Therapy Treatment

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