Scientists from Imperial College London’s Phage Therapy Group have entered into a research collaboration with Pfizer to develop a novel manufacturing-enabling technology that could represent a major step forward in the research and development of gene therapies.
Gene therapies refer to treatments in which genetic material is introduced to patients’ cells in order to treat or prevent conditions that are caused by faulty genes. One of the main challenges in the development and commercialisation of such therapies is the fact that gene transfer agents are very expensive to produce at scale. The clinical use of gene therapies may be accelerated therefore by the ability to produce the gene transfer agent at scale and reduced cost.
The Phage Therapy Group, led by Dr Amin Hajitou of the Department of Medicine, has developed a novel technology that could offer an alternative to existing approaches to producing these gene transfer agents.
The collaboration will combine the expertise of Pfizer’s Rare Disease Research Unit and the Hajitou Laboratory at Imperial College London.
Imperial Innovations provided Dr Hajitou with initial proof of concept funding necessary to establish the feasibility of the technology. This lead to interactions with Pfizer under the Rare Diseases Consortium – a partnership formed in 2014 between Pfizer, Cambridge University, Imperial College London, King's College London, Queen Mary University London, Oxford University and University College London with the goal of accelerating drug discovery in areas of high unmet medical need.