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Subject Genethon signs strategic agreement with Korean biotech company ViroMed
Writer ViroMed
Date 2003/06/18
ViroMed and Genethon have entered into an agreement to form a multi-year cross boarder strategic alliance for the development, joint clinical study, and global commercialization of gene-based drugs for the treatment of rare genetic diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, ViroMed will develop gene-based drugs for immune and metabolic disorders based on its proprietary retrovirus gene delivery system and offer them to Genethon. Genethon will carry out local GMP production and clinical studies of those drug candidates in Europe. In Asia and the Oceania region, ViroMed will be responsible for clinical studies and marketing.

The goal of this product-driven collaborative arrangement will be to enhance drug development productivity by pooling respective resources and sharing knowledge, resulting in reduced development time with a higher probability of success. The early focus of this alliance will be to develop treatments for ADA-SCID, Hunter Syndrome and CGD.

With this agreement, Genethon benefits from a quality vector production system designed by ViroMed, which will enable it to operate enhanced clinical trials for rare diseases. Moreover, ViroMed represents one of the few extraordinary players in rare disease research in the world. This alliance will thus bring these players together in order to put into common and coordinate the efforts of research that needs to be international in order to make up for the rarity of genetic diseases.

The partnership with Genethon attests the high quality of ViroMed's proprietary gene delivery system and serves as a stepping stone for worldwide promotion of its gene-based drugs. It also provides ViroMed with access to a dedicated biological bulk-manufacturing facility that is fully validated and approved to meet worldwide requirements at its disposal - a cost savings of at least US $3 million. Viromed believes that through this unique partnership, it can tackle critical and pressing medical needs on a global basis. In a broad context, this partnership will become a critical milestone in recently accelerating cooperation between France and Korea in the area of biotechnology.

The retrovirus vector developed by ViroMed was incorporated into an anticancer drug that is designed to improve tolerance of repeated and high doses of chemotherapy. It was licensed to Japan in 2001 for US $500,000. The vector is patented in Korea, US, UK, Japan, Singapore, and Russia.

Genethon is a non-profit research organization founded and financed by the AFM (Association Francise contre les Myopathies/French Muscular Dystrophy Association) via donations from a Telethon, and is Europe's largest organization dedicated to gene and cell therapy. Since its establishment in 1990, its organizational mandate has evolved from participation in the Human Genome project (Genethon I), to the location and identification of genes (Genethon II). Since 1997, Genethon has focused its scientific activities on vectorology (research, development, production and distribution of vectors for therapeutic purposes) and on the development of gene and cell based therapeutic approaches for treating rare genetic diseases, including muscular dystrophies. Please visit the Genethon web site (www.genethon.fr) for more information.

ViroMed Co., Ltd.
ViroMed is a Korean biotech company founded by Dr. Sunyoung Kim of Seoul National University. ViroMed develops gene-based medicines for the treatment of major human diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, genetic disorders, immune diseases, and cancer. Since its incorporation in 1996, ViroMed has pursued gene therapy based on its proprietary vector technology and is working toward rapid market entry for gene-based products that address severe, life-threatening diseases for which alternative treatments are either unsatisfactory or non-existent.

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