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King's signs agreement with Pfizer in field of gene therapy

Posted on 19/01/2016
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King’s College London has announced that it has recently entered into an exclusive license agreement with Pfizer Inc. for the development of a series of adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy vectors.

There is growing commercial interest and activity within the field of gene therapy in recent years with numerous licensing deals and funding rounds reported. Of the various technical approaches to deliver a therapeutic gene, the use of viral vectors is by far the most common approach in commercial development and of the different viral vectors available, the most commonly used vector is AAV.

This programme emerges from technology developed by Professor Michael Linden and Dr. Els Henckaerts from the Department of Infectious Diseases. Sponsored by internal funding from the King’s Commercialisation Institute, they have developed an AAV vector platform, based on the discovery that a series of targeted capsid mutations in AAV vectors yields a new generation of vectors with superior transduction abilities in the brain. The agreement gives Pfizer the exclusive right to use this platform.

Under the terms of this agreement, King’s College London will receive an upfront payment, and will be eligible for additional clinical development and commercialization milestone payments.

In addition, as part of the Pfizer Rare Disease Consortium (RDC), Pfizer will fund research with Dr. Els Henckaerts for further development of the AAV vector platform and its application in gene therapy and a new line of research in Dr. Henckaerts’ laboratory that is designed to apply insights into the basic understanding of the virus to help overcome the challenges of production for clinical use.

Dr Els Henckaerts from the Division of Immunology, Infection & Inflammatory Disease at King’s College London, said: “This is a very exciting moment, emerging from several years of basic science discovery and translational research in my laboratory. The collaboration with Pfizer provides a very strong platform for us to work toward progressing this potential new therapy into full clinical development for the benefit of patients with rare diseases.”

Notes to editors

For more information please contact Jenny Gimpel in the King’s College London press office on +44 (0)207 848 4334,

About King’s College London

King's College London is one of the top 20 universities in the world (2015/16 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King's has more than 26,500 students (of whom more than 10,400 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and nearly 6,900 staff. The university is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.

For more information, please visit King’s in Brief.

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