- Lonza Group, a Swiss contracting giant, struck an agreement this week with Massachusetts Eye and Eye to build out its gene therapy drug development offerings, licensing a type of synthetic adeno-associated viral vectors (AAVs) from the Boston-based research center.
- Under the terms of the agreement, Lonza will be allowed to commercially license the specialized AAVs as a tool for its customers to develop and commercialize new gene therapies. In return, Lonza will fund further research at Mass Eye and Ear into next-gen gene transfer reagents.
- Adeno-associated viruses have been seen as a promising viral vector to deliver gene therapies in a number of different therapeutic applications.
Lonza views itself as a leading AAV manufacturing provider, and recently broke ground on a new gene and cell therapy manufacturing plant in Pearland, Texas. The plant, which the company believes will be one of the largest such facilities in the world, is expected to come online by year-end 2017.
The licensing deal with Mass Eye and Ear will give Lonza a vector platform to sublicense to gene therapy clients as it continues to develop its offerings in this area.
The AAVs in question were developed in the lab of Dr. Luk Vandenberghe, director of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at Mass Eye and Ear. Lonza will fund further research at the Grousbeck center and agreed to develop a large-scale manufacturing platform of Anc-80, the first licensed AAV, along with any AAVs developed by Vandenberghe in the future.
"In this era of personalized medicine, the partnership with Lonza is unique, and potentially very effective as it brings a highly potent vector technology under one roof with a leading manufacturer of biologics," Vandenberghe said.