Small molecules, biologics and now gene therapies: Germany's Evotec adds another feather to its R&D cap
German drug discovery company Evotec — which has a thriving rolodex of biopharma partners such as Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Takeda — is now venturing into gene therapies.
The company swallowed Seattle-based Just Biotherapeutics, a company focused on reducing the cost of manufacturing protein therapies last year. It is now setting up a dedicated R&D site for gene therapies in Austria, in an effort to achieve a “modality-agnostic” repertoire — small molecules, biologics and now gene therapies.
The site will be run by a team of twenty researchers led by Friedrich Scheiflinger, who worked for Baxalta, Shire and Takeda. The scientists have expertise in vectorology and virology as well as disease insights, in particular in hemophilia, hematology, metabolic and muscle diseases.
“In recent years, precision medicines based on cell and gene therapies have emerged and are predicted to grow significantly. Gene therapy is a promising approach to the development of genetic medicines for patients, especially for inherited and rare diseases,” said Evotec chief Werner Lanthaler in a statement.
Cell and gene therapies are not easy to develop and are prohibitively expensive to manufacture. A combined $2 billion has been set aside by nearly a dozen drugmakers — including Pfizer and Novartis — for gene therapy manufacturing since 2018, according to an analysis by Reuters in November.