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Genzyme Biosurgery, Excigen collaborate in developing gene therapy for cardiac arrhythmia.

Genzyme Biosurgery (Cambridge, MA) has entered into a strategic collaboration with Excigen, Inc. (Baltimore, MD) focused on developing gene therapies for treating cardiac arrhythmia. Genzyme Biosurgery, which has an extensive program in biotechnology related to heart disease, will make a strategic investment in Excigen and contribute in-kind research services, in return for an equity position in the company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Excigen was formed last year by two physicians from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine - Eduardo Marban, MD, PhD, who is the Michel Mirowski, MD Professor of Cardiology and a Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Biomedical Engineering; and Kevin Donahue, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine.

"This collaboration is a great strategic fit for Genzyme Biosurgery, and we are extremely excited to be working with two leaders in the understanding of the root causes of cardiac arrhythmias, and the potential for gene therapy to address them," said Duke Collier, president of Genzyme Biosurgery. "The excellent preclinical work done by Excigen to date positions the company well in its development of new approaches for treating this important health problem."

Excigen's initial focus will be on developing gene therapy treatment options for atrial fibrillation, a condition which results in irregular, erratic, and rapid heart rhythm, and for bradyarrhythmia, a condition which results in the heart beating too slowly. It is estimated that these conditions affect several million people in the United States each year. Presently these conditions are treated with drugs, ablation procedures, or implantable devices, although there are many patients for whom these treatments are not clinically appropriate.

"We are very pleased to be collaborating with Genzyme Biosurgery, and look forward to working with them closely to meet our goal of advancing to Phase 1 clinical trials within the next three years," said Dr. Marban. "Genzyme Biosurgery's experience in developing biotechnology products for heart disease, particularly in gene therapy, makes it an ideal partner for Excigen."

Genzyme Biosurgery has an extensive portfolio of biotechnology products in development for the treatment of heart disease. In addition to its collaboration with Excigen related to arrhythmias, the division is building on more than a decade of experience in gene therapy to advance two clinical trials for ischemia. One trial, which evaluates the use of gene therapy to grow new blood vessels in patients with peripheral vascular disease, is now fully enrolled. The other trial, which uses gene therapy as an adjunct to coronary artery bypass surgery, has enrolled a majority of the planned 28 patients. Genzyme Biosurgery is also conducting the world's only Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the use of autologous cell therapy to prevent the progression from a heart attack to heart failure.

Genzyme Biosurgery is a leading developer of novel biotherapeutic and biomaterial products used to treat serious diseases that are managed primarily by surgeons. Its products and pipeline are concentrated in the rapidly growing markets of orthopaedics and heart disease and in broader surgical applications.

Genzyme Biosurgery

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Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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