Gene therapy firm AskBio acquires French company targeting deadly brain disease
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), a clinical stage gene therapy company in Research Triangle Park, has acquired BrainVectis, a French company that is developing a potential gene therapy for Huntington’s disease, a fatal genetic disease of the brain.
“BrainVectis has world-leading knowledge of Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases and gives us access to a pipeline of candidates for these indications,” Sheila Mikhail, chief executive officer and co-founder of AskBio, said in a news release announcing the acquisition.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. BrainVectis will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AskBio and maintain its office in Paris.
BrainVectis is a gene therapy company that was spun out of the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM). It was founded in 2015 by award-winning physician and gene therapy pioneer Nathalie Cartier-Lacave, M.D., with early funding and support from INSERM, Sorbonne University and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission.
Cartier-Lacave and her team are working to develop gene therapies to increase expression of the CYP46A1 enzyme in the brain. This enzyme is linked to a number of diseases in which brain cholesterol metabolism dysfunction is implicated in the pathology of neurodegeneration.
The company’s lead gene therapy candidate, BV-CYP01, has shown proof-of-concept in animal models of Huntington’s disease and received Orphan Drug Designation from the European Commission in April 2019.