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AlveoGene: inhaled gene therapy spinout launches

13 Sep 2023

New spinout AlveoGene, focused on transforming rare respiratory disease outcomes using inhaled gene therapy, has launched out of the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh and Imperial College London.

Seed funding was raised from Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE), Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals (Harrington), and Old College Capital (OCC), the University of Edinburgh’s venture investment fund.

AlveoGene was founded on research by six leading scientists from the world-renowned UK Respiratory Gene Therapy Consortium (GTC), established in 2001 by the three universities to catalyse the application of pioneering research to gene therapy development and manufacturing, related to cystic fibrosis and other respiratory diseases.

The two University of Edinburgh scientists involved are Dr Chris Boyd (above right), of the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, part of the Institute of Genetics and Cancer, and Dr Gerry McLachlan (above left) of the Roslin Institute.

AlveoGene has secured an exclusive licence to a proprietary and validated next-generation lentiviral delivery platform developed by the GTC for the treatment of respiratory diseases with high unmet need (excluding the use of the CFTR gene which is mutated in cystic fibrosis).

Gene therapies developed using the “InGenuiTy™” platform can be delivered through a nebuliser, transducing lung epithelial cells with high efficiency and producing a long duration of action, and can achieve these effects following repeated administration. The platform has been developed over more than a decade, supported by approximately £72 million in grant funding, including from the Wellcome Trust, UK Medical Research Council and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

AlveoGene will be led by David Hipkiss as Executive Chair - a biopharmaceutical executive with over 25 years’ experience of building and leading innovative companies, particularly in the respiratory disease area, and a proven track record of delivering high value outcomes for stakeholders.

Mr Hipkiss said:

I am truly excited to lead this new venture. The combination of pioneering science, an extensively validated platform, access to world-leading expertise through our founding scientists and the backing of OSE, Harrington and OCC provides a fantastic foundation for the Company. ”

Dr Boyd said:

We look forward to contributing to this exciting joint venture in gene therapy which aims to ease the burden of those with respiratory diseases. ”

Dr McLachlan added:

This new chapter in our long-standing collaboration with colleagues from Imperial College and Oxford University adds a welcome boost to our existing translational research programme. ”

Andrea Young, Head of Old College Capital, part of Edinburgh Innovations, said:

We are delighted to have participated in AlveoGene’s seed funding round. The launch is a great example of how collaboration between a range of stakeholders can create the opportunity to tackle complex diseases and ultimately impact patient lives. ”

The GTC has demonstrated key characteristics of the platform, including a scalable manufacturing process, which will allow its rapid translation through to first-in-human trials. This foundation will now enable AlveoGene to fast-track the development of its first candidate AVG-001, a novel, inhaled gene therapy designed to promote localised production of alpha-1 antitrypsin to treat patients with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD). The Company is aiming to progress this candidate towards clinical development over the next two to three years.

AlveoGene will also evaluate the potential of the InGenuiTy platform alongside other technologies to create a pipeline of novel inhaled gene therapies targeting other rare respiratory disease opportunities, such as lung surfactant deficiencies and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.