Genetic Therapy Inc. of Gaithersburg said yesterday that it has obtained the right to a gene that could be used to treat a relatively rare genetic disorder that leaves patients with high cholesterol levels.
The non-exclusive licensing agreement with the University of Texas System would allow Genetic Therapy, a biotechnology company, to advance its efforts to develop treatments for the more common forms of high cholesterol, which affect 47 million Americans.
Patients with the genetic disorder, familial hypercholesterolemia, lack a gene that produces a low-density lipoprotein receptor. The receptor helps clear the body of cholesterol by binding to it in the bloodstream.
University of Michigan researchers hope to do clinical experiments in which they treat hypercholesterol by removing a piece of the liver, genetically altering the cells, then putting them back into the patient.
The patents the license covers were awarded to Nobel Prize winning University of Texas scientists.