Rare Disease Report

Fortress and Aevitas Enter Sponsored Research Agreement with AAV Technology Expert

FEBRUARY 26, 2018
Kaitlynn Ely
Fortress Biotech and one of its 11 subsidiaries, Aevitas Therapeutics, have entered into a sponsored research agreement (SRA) with Dr. Guanping Gao’s laboratory located at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to evaluate construct optimization in the development of gene therapies based on adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology.

Fortress created the Aevitas subsidiary company in August 2017, proving the corporation’s dedication to acquiring, developing and commercializing novel pharmaceutical and biotechnology products. Other subsidiaries of Fortress include Cyprium Therapeutics Mustang Bio, and Journey Medical Corporation. The company has three therapies in the commercial stage of development – Targadox, Ceracade, and Luxamend – indicated for acne, eczema emollient, and wound cream, respectively.

The creation of Aevitas has expanded Fortress’ focus to include the development of AAV based gene therapies to restore lasting production of regulatory proteins for complement-mediated rare diseases. These treatments have the potential to become lifelong cures for disease such as atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and age-related macular degeneration.

With more than 20 years of AAV specific experience behind him, Dr. Guanping Gao, professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, is the first researcher to be named to the scientific advisory board created to conduct the research regarding construct optimization in AAV technology.

His impressive resume includes: Vice President of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy, Founding Co-Director of the Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research at UMass Medical School, Founding Director of the Horae Gene Therapy Center & Viral Vector Core, and Scientific Director of the UMass Medical School China Program Office.

Additionally, Dr. Gao was named a 2017 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors for his pioneering research in the discovery and characterization of new AAV serotypes.

Lindsay A. Rosenwald, M.D., Fortress Biotech’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release: “Dr. Gao is a world-renowned AAV gene therapy researcher who has made significant contributions to the development of safer and more effective AAV-based treatments. We look forward to leveraging his expertise as part of Aevitas’ newly formed scientific advisory board, and through the research agreement with UMass Medical School, which will enable Aevitas to advance potentially lifelong treatments for complement-mediated diseases toward the clinic.”

Aevitas is in the preclinical stage for its development of gene therapy approaches for the treatment of rare diseases.

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