Why France is Leading the Gene and Cell Therapy Field in Europe

Europe is one of the largest gene and cell therapy markets in the world, with France and the UK at pole positions.

France’s prominence in the field is highlighted by more than ten world-leading biotech and research clusters working in gene and cell therapies today.

These research clusters are the fruits of years of pioneering work in genetics, initiated and led by Genethon since the 1990s. Their early work put France on the map as they published the first human genome maps in 1990–92.

Concurrently, the French Government decided to promote gene therapy development by facilitating the acceptance of clinical trials, promoting the integration of small gene therapy research centres and hospitals encouraging industrial partners to invest in gene therapy programmes.

Thirty years on, the French Government is still supporting these developments, and Genethon is a leading entity with eight active programs in clinical trials.

Similarly, Institut Imagine and Institut de la Vision have worked hard to unite researchers, clinicians and industrial partners to drive a large number of French therapies currently under development.

Future involvement by institutions such as the Institut de l’Audition and the Meary Center ensure a future of constant growth spurred on by France’s considerable pool of scientific talent. Further progress comes from cross-regional development initiatives that sponsor academic projects and push proof-of-concept work that is transferred into clinical applications.

On the industry side, several of these innovative academic discoveries have been out-licensed successfully to commercial companies. For example, adeno-associated virus (AAV) developed at Genethon was out-licensed to Avexis; work from the Institut de la Vision led to the creation of GenSight Biologics, a leader in ophthalmology gene therapy, and breakthrough findings by Marina Cavazzana about rare red blood cell disease at Institut Imagine were sponsored by Bluebird Bio.

The French biotech community continues to boast strong contributors to the development of gene therapy (GenSight Biologics, Vivet Therapeutics, Lysogene) and cell therapy fields (Cellectis, Theravectys, TxCell – now Sangamo Therapeutics), making the French biotech scene a highly fertile environment that will bring competitive therapies to market, promising to secure a good share of the $35.4bn gene and cell therapy market.

SIRION Biotech believes in this leading country and is committed to supporting its partners developing innovative technologies in the field by being at the heart of it with our local office in Paris.

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