March 6, 2018

Tiny biotech takes on Glaxo’s $730,000 gene therapy

GlaxoSmithKline has seen precious few takers for its $730,000 gene therapy for a rare and life-threatening immune illness known as “bubble-boy disease.” Now a tiny startup thinks it can succeed where the British giant is struggling.

In almost two years since Glaxo’s Strimvelis came to the market, just five patients have received the treatment, offered only through a single center in Milan. Orchard Therapeutics, a closely held company in London with about 80 employees and no products on the market, is preparing to sell a competing version that may reach more sick children.

Orchard, whose team includes three former Glaxo executives, wants to one-up the larger company by taking aim at a Strimvelis shortcoming. While Glaxo’s therapy can’t be transported, Orchard is planning to use frozen cells that can travel to markets all over the world.

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