Germany and Japan cooperate to develop innovative gene delivery tool

Germany's SIRION Biotech GmbH (SIRION) is working with Acucela Inc. (Acucela) to develop innovative new tools that could preserve and restore vision for millions of people world-wide. At the beginning of January, SIRION announced that it had signed a two-year agreement with Acucela, a subsidiary of Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings Co., Ltd., aimed at establishing optimized adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for clinical applications in ocular gene therapy.

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The accord is expected to translate innovation into a diverse portfolio of drugs and devices that can help people who are suffering from retinal degeneration caused by diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa. The cooperation is expected to allow Acucela to bolster its move into a rapidly growing gene therapy market. The agreement additionally provides for milestone payments to the German partner SIRION – a world leader in virus-based technology innovation and a gene delivery expert that is already providing custom services to commercial partners around the globe.

The agreement between SIRION and Acucela is just one of a number of German-Japanese cooperative efforts in biotech. Both countries have actively promoted research and innovation in this field and are reaping the benefits in the shape of strong market performance. Among the examples of existing joint activities is the InnoMuNiCH project, which stands for "Innovations through Munich-Nippon Cooperations in Healthcare." The project is based at the BioM cluster of excellence and is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research.

Another indicator of the importance of German-Japanese biotech cooperation is HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY's activities in Japan, which date back a number of years. This year, however, is a landmark because the export initiative for the German healthcare industry is making Japan one of its focus markets. Furthermore, 2018 will mark the first time that Germany has its own pavilion at BIOJapan in Yokohama. HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY will be there. Please come to meet us.