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BrainVectis, a Subsidiary of AskBio, Receives Clearance to Conduct Phase I/II Clinical Trial in France for Its Novel Gene Therapy for Early-stage Huntington’s Disease

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BrainVectis, a Subsidiary of AskBio, Receives Clearance to Conduct Phase I/II Clinical Trial in France for Its Novel Gene Therapy for Early-stage Huntington’s Disease | Pharmtech Focus

Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio), a wholly owned and independently operated subsidiary of Bayer AG, has received clearance to conduct a Phase I/II trial for its novel Huntington’s Disease (HD) gene therapy, BV-101, in France through its subsidiary BrainVectis. This authorization, provided by the National Agency for Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), the country’s governing drug authority, along with the approval of the trial protocol by the Ethics Committee in charge, enables the company to begin recruiting participants.

BV-101 is a novel, exclusively designed adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy vector that simultaneously addresses the metabolic dysfunction of diseased neurons as well as contributes to the clearance of the mutant huntingtin protein. BV-101 is administered through MRI-guided neurosurgical techniques directed to target tissues in the basal structures of the brain. In preclinical studies in mice, BV-101 demonstrated the ability to repair the essential cholesterol pathway, provide neuroprotection, and restore physical performance by delivering CYP46A1, a crucial enzyme in the brain which is reduced in people with Huntington’s Disease. BV-101 was granted orphan drug designation in the European Union in 2019 by the European Medicines Agency.

“Unlike other attempts to treat Huntington’s Disease, BV-101 aims to restore cholesterol metabolism, reduce mutant huntingtin and to improve neuronal function. Importantly, BV-101 does not affect the levels of normal huntingtin protein in cells,” said Nathalie Cartier-Lacave, MD, founder of BrainVectis and now Vice President, Sector Lead Neurobiology, at AskBio. “If this proves successful, we have the potential to change the course of a devastating disease that causes severe functional and cognitive decline.”

Currently there are no approved disease modifying therapies for HD, a rare inherited neurodegenerative disease that, based on information from the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP), affects approximately 62,000 people in the European Union. The disease is caused by anomalous repeating mutations in the huntingtin gene leading to abnormal protein aggregates in nerve cells. This results in a range of progressive symptoms, leading to complete physical and mental deterioration, with symptoms usually beginning in adults ages 30 to 50, but which can also occur at an earlier age.

“The approval of this trial in France marks a major milestone to potentially treat one of the world’s most devastating genetic diseases,” added Sheila Mikhail, JD, MBA, CEO and Co-Founder of AskBio. “If successful, this novel approach for treating Huntington’s Disease may impact how we treat many other neurodegenerative diseases in the future.”

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