November 6, 2012

First Gene Therapy Approved!

We will be watching the 2013 commercial roll-out of Glybera very, very closely.

First Gene Therapy Approved by European Commission

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – November 2, 2012uniQure announced today it has received approval from the European Commission for the gene therapy Glybera® (alipogene tiparvovec), a treatment for patients with lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD, also called familial hyperchylomicronemia) suffering from recurring acute pancreatitis. Patients with LPLD, a very rare, inherited disease, are unable to metabolize the fat particles carried in their blood, which leads to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), an extremely serious, painful, and potentially lethal condition. The approval makes Glybera the first gene therapy approved by regulatory authorities in the Western world.

“Glybera’s approval means LPLD patients, for the first time, have a medical treatment option for a very complex and severe disease,” said Professor John Kastelein of the Department of Vascular Medicine at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. “LPLD leads to acute and recurrent pancreatitis attacks, and in many patients causes early onset diabetes and cardiovascular complications. This therapy will have a dramatic impact on the lives of these patients. Currently their only recourse is to severely restrict the amount of fat they consume. By helping to normalize the metabolism of fat, Glybera prevents inflammation of the pancreas thereby averting the associated pain and suffering and, if administered early enough, the associated co-morbidities.”

As part of the approval, patients will receive treatment with Glybera through dedicated centers of excellence and by specially trained doctors. uniQure will also build a patient registry to further improve the understanding of this devastating, under-researched disease and the effects of Glybera treatment. Marketing Authorisation covers all 27 European Union member states. uniQure is preparing to apply for regulatory approval in the US, Canada, and other markets.

“The final approval of Glybera from the EC marks a major step forward in making gene therapies available not only for LPLD but also for a large number of rare diseases with a very high unmet medical need,” says Jörn Aldag, CEO of uniQure. “The EC’s approval is an important validation of our innovative product platform and offers strong support for our other advanced development programs, which focus on acute intermittent porphyria, Sanfilippo B, hemophilia B and Parkinson’s disease.”

About Glybera®
uniQure has developed Glybera as a therapy for patients with the genetic disorder lipoprotein lipase deficiency, an orphan disease for which no treatment existed. The disease is caused by mutations in the LPL gene, resulting in highly decreased or absent activity of LPL enzyme in patients. This enzyme is needed in order to break down large fat-carrying particles that circulate in the blood after each meal. When such particles, called chylomicrons, accumulate in the blood, they may obstruct small blood vessels. Excess chylomicrons result in recurrent and severe acute inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis, the most debilitating complication of LPLD. Glybera has orphan drug designation in the EU and US. LPL Deficiency affects 1-2 persons per million.

Glybera has been tested in three interventional clinical studies conducted in the Netherlands and in Canada, in which a total of 27 LPLD patients participated. In all three clinical trials, Glybera was well tolerated, with no relevant safety issues observed. Data from these clinical trials indicate that a single dose administration of Glybera resulted in a long-term biological activity of the LPL protein. For further information on LPLD visit

Lipoprotein lipase is a key ‘first step’ enzyme in the metabolism of lipoproteins following fat intake with diet. In clinical studies a transient reduction in triglycerides for up to 12 weeks in individual patients could be observed. Furthermore, Glybera allows expression of the LPL protein in injected muscle which is reflected by the improvement of postprandial chylomicron (CM) metabolism observed in a small subset of patients. Glybera (alipogene tiparvovec) contains the human lipoprotein lipase (LPL) gene variant LPLS447X in a vector. The vector comprises a protein shell derived from adeno-associated virus serotype 1 (AAV1), the promoter, a posttranscriptional regulatory element and AAV2 derived inverted terminal repeats.

Glybera is indicated for adult patients diagnosed with familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD) and suffering from severe or multiple pancreatitis attacks despite dietary fat restrictions. The diagnosis of LPLD has to be confirmed by genetic testing. The indication is restricted to patients with detectable levels of LPL protein.

The most commonly reported adverse reaction is pain in extremity occurring in approximately one third of patients. Given the small patient population and size of the cohorts, observed adverse reactions do not provide a complete perspective on the nature and frequency of these events.

About uniQure
uniQure is a world leader in the development of human gene based therapies. uniQure product pipeline of gene therapy products in development comprise hemophilia B, acute intermittent porphyria, Parkinson’s disease and SanfilippoB. Using adeno-associated viral (AAV) derived vectors as the delivery vehicle of choice for therapeutic genes, the company has been able to design and validate probably the world’s first stable and scalable AAV manufacturing platform. This proprietary platform can be applied to a large number of rare (orphan) diseases caused by one faulty gene and allows uniQure to pursue its strategy of focusing on this sector of the industry. uniQure's largest shareholders are Forbion Capital Partners and Gilde Healthcare, two of the leading life sciences venture capital firms in the Netherlands. Further information can be found at


  1. Great news! I hope it's the herald of some closer-to-home developments in that direction. And on a completely different note, your Halloween pictures are WONDERFUL. The kids both look great, and V's Princess Leia wig kills it. Where did you get that, or did you make it? Either way, I would have given her about five pieces of candy for that :).

  2. This is good news but I just do wonder if how this gene therapy does would cost? I think only those people who belong to the upper class can afford this kind of treatment.