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AaviGen commits €17 million to research into precision gene therapy for heart failure

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The biotechnology company AaviGen is providing €17 million in a second round of funding to advance precision gene therapies for heart failure into the clinic. In the context of cardiovascular translational research, the company emerged partly from DZHK-funded projects.

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Founded in 2019, AaviGen GmbH is a biotechnology company dedicated to the development of gene therapies for cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary diseases. The company has now announced plans to support clinical research into gene therapies for heart disease with €17 million. This will enable the expansion of preclinical programmes and accelerate the development of the company's lead gene therapy (GTMP) for chronic heart failure into the clinic. DH-LT Investments GmbH, an investment company managed by Dietmar Hopp, is providing the necessary funding.

Precision gene therapy for heart failure

AaviGen specialises in the genetic engineering of heart-specific adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids. AAV are already used in gene therapy. They do not cause disease or alter the genetic make-up of the cell, making them a safe form of therapy. Although current AAV-based gene therapy approaches have shown efficacy in several rare diseases, earlier gene therapy developments for heart failure failed to gain acceptance. One problem has been the inability of the viruses to dock with their target cells and successfully deliver their viral vectors into the heart cells. The company has now optimised the process and developed new AAV capsids adapted to the diseased cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary system. In doing so, they have ensured that the AAV capsids bind only to the tissues and cell types relevant to the treatment of the disease.

"Despite the ever-increasing prevalence of heart failure, which affects more than 26 million people worldwide, there are essentially no curative therapies that address the underlying molecular causes. AaviGen's therapeutic pipeline is designed to address this critical unmet need," commented Prof. Patrick Most, co-founder, CEO and Managing Director of AaviGen. Dietmar Hopp added: "We believe that AaviGen's innovative approach to delivering genetic material to diseased tissue has the potential to transform gene therapy. We are therefore pleased to continue to support AaviGen as they advance their therapeutic candidate for heart failure into the clinic.

AaviGen contact: Prof. Dr. Marc Lerchenmüller, Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director AaviGen, Heidelberg, Germany, marc.lerchenmueller(at)aavigen.com.