* Dimension uses viruses to carry genes to cells
* Bayer seeks to widen haemophilia business
* Main drug Kogenate had 1.2 bln eur in 2013 sales
* UniQure, Bluebird Bio also working on gene therapies
(Adds detail, background)
By Ludwig Burger and Ben Hirschler
FRANKFURT/LONDON, June 23 Bayer has
struck an alliance with U.S. biotech firm Dimension Therapeutics
to develop a gene therapy for the treatment of haemophilia A,
marking renewed interest in an approach to tackle the cause of
diseases at a cellular level.
Gene therapy involves inserting corrective genes into
malfunctioning cells to get them to work again without further
use of drugs. Dimension has been looking into using viruses to
carry the genes to the affected cells.
Gene therapy has seen more than 20 years of experiments and
a series of disappointments. However, Amsterdam-based UniQure
is about to start selling its gene therapy drug Glybera
in Europe as a treatment for the ultra-rare disease lipoprotein
lipase deficiency (LPLD) with partner Chiesi.
U.S. biotech firm Bluebird Bio last week reported
positive results with an experimental gene therapy for another
blood disorder, sending its shares soaring.
Dimension Therapeutics will receive an upfront payment of
$20 million and may get development and commercialisation
milestone payments of up to $232 million. Bayer will also make
royalty payments based on future product sales.
Standard haemophilia A therapies are often administered
intravenously multiple times a week and may be required for
The German drugmaker's established haemophilia A therapy
Kogenate had 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in sales last
year. It has two more drug candidates against the type A of the
hereditary bleeding disorder in the third and last phase of
testing on humans that is required for regulatory approval.
($1 = 0.7366 Euros)
(Editing by Jason Neely and David Holmes)