Flexion Therapeutics has bought a knee osteoarthritis program developed by the Hamburg-based gene therapy specialist GeneQuine Biotherapeutics in a deal worth up to USD 64 million, the German company announced Thursday (December 14, 2017). The programme has the potential to provide long-lasting pain relief and disease modification and is ikely to enter clinical trials in 2019.
Flexion Therapeutics based in Burlington, MA has bought acquired the global rights to GQ-203 now designated FX201 by Flexion. The preclinical-stage, intra-articular therapeutic is being developed for symptomatic pain relief and disease modification in patients with OA of the knee.
Innovative gene therapies
GQ-203/FX201 is a locally administered gene therapy designed to express the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) whenever the joint is inflamed. Chronic inflammation is thought to play a major role in the progression of OA. By persistently suppressing inflammation, FX201 may reduce pain and modify the disease.
Kilian Guse, CEO of GeneQuine said: “We are very pleased that Flexion has taken over the development of GQ-203/FX201 and are confident that, given their deep expertise in OA drug development, they will be able to efficiently advance the program into the clinic and potentially to the market.”
Funding for GeneQuine
The GQ-203/FX201 technology was originally developed at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas by Guse. GeneQuine was founded in 2012 with venture capital funds from High-Tech Gründerfonds, Bonn, Germany, and the Innovationsstarter Fonds Hamburg. The company has focused on preclinical development and has demonstrated symptomatic and disease-modifying OA treatment in small and large animal models.
A single injection of GQ-203/FX201 could potentially enable expression of IL-1Ra in an osteoarthritic joint for a least a year. Initially, FX201 will be targeted towards patients who suffer aggressive OA of the knee and would be expected to benefit from this therapy.
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