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U, TikkunLev to accelerate heart-failure gene therapy

The University of Utah, one of the nation’s leading research universities, and TikkunLev Therapeutics, a gene therapy company, have announced a new partnership to accelerate an innovative heart-failure gene therapy. The agreement is an exclusive world-wide license and includes a sponsored research program to support future FDA filings.

The discovery of cBIN1, a molecule lost in heart failure, at the U’s Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute (CVRTI) by U professor Robin Shaw, led to a pursuit of gene therapy to regain the heart’s organization and function.

“When we first discovered cBIN1 we did not realize its potential to be a master regulator of heart cell internal organization and overall cardiac function. We are thrilled that it both helps failing hearts and recovers failing heart muscle,” said Shaw.

“TikkunLev Therapeutics is honored and privileged to be working with the University of Utah and CVRTI to bring their cBIN1 heart failure gene therapy innovation to the clinic,” said TikkunLev Therapeutics CEO Steve Rosen. “The experimental therapy has shown impressive performance in large animal studies that reverse heart failure.”

The partnership includes a large investment to continue researching heart failure treatments. “To support the program, TikkunLev will be investing approximately $13 million in a sponsored research program to support IND enabling studies,” Rosen said. “TikkunLev will be establishing a presence in the Salt Lake City area and hope to add further momentum to the vibrant and growing biotechnology sector there.”

The agreement was facilitated by the university’s Partners for Innovation, Ventures, Outreach & Technology (PIVOT) Center. As one of the top research institutions in the United States, the U is a burgeoning source of early-stage innovation and PIVOT Center is often called on to propel these innovations to market.