SEP 28, 2015 5:00 PM PDT

Cancer Drugs Lead Gene Therapy Pipeline

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Oncology, infectious diseases, genetic disorders, cardiovascular diseases and ophthalmological indications are the most active gene therapy pipeline sectors.In spite of the fact that few products have reached the market and captured strong revenues thus far, the gene therapy pipeline continues to remain large, with 906 products in active development across all stages, according to Dominic Trewartha, managing analyst at GBI Research, a business intelligence provider. However, the majority of these products are in early stages of development, with 76 percent of them at either the discovery or preclinical stage, Trewartha cautioned in an article in Drug Discovery & Development
GBI Research’s latest report reveals that oncology, infectious diseases, genetic disorders, cardiovascular diseases and ophthalmological indications are the most active pipeline sectors. In addition, these areas are the most widely studied in terms of the number of clinical trials performed.

There are 266 pipeline gene therapies in active development for oncology, which is more than double the number of those for central nervous system disorders, which is the second-largest therapy area. Additionally, oncology also figured into 64 percent of gene therapy clinical trials between 1989 and 2012. The report also revealed that oncology is the predominant area for gene therapy developments because of its high prevalence and genetically driven pathophysiology.

Trewartha explained that one reason for the big overall pipeline is the potential for these therapies to become strong drugs by targeting diseases on a genetic level. Whereas there are no products that have fulfilled this promise at the present time, developers expect that they will do so in the future.
Based on pipeline activity, GBI Research’s report also states that Isis Pharmaceuticals is a major player in the gene therapy research and development space, with 31 gene silencing-based programs in development across the key therapy areas. Also, Sarepta and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals are key players, with 25 and 24 pipeline products in development, respectively.

Analysts who wrote the report believe that in the next decade, these late-stage pipeline developments may translate into clinically and commercially successful gene therapies entering the market. Nonetheless, they think that high pipeline failure rates because of challenges in developing safe and efficient delivery vectors will remain a barrier. They cite other potential obstacles to gene therapy development, including difficulties in manufacturing and purifying viral vectors, as well as increased regulatory oversight by the US Food and Drug Administration and general caution from worldwide regulatory bodies following previous trial deaths.
About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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