AGTC Sets Up Shop in Florida, New Facility to House 75 Employees
February 17, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation , a biotechnology company researching adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapies for the treatment of rare diseases, is expanding into the rapidly growing north central Florida biotech corridor.
The company, which was founded on technology developed at the University of Florida, is opening a combined use corporate office and laboratory facility in Alachua, Fla. AGTC's portion of the new multi-tenant facility is expected to accommodate up to about 75 people and consists of approximately 20,000 square feet including state-of-the-art lab and office space as well as space for future expansion, the company announced this morning.
"The new facility will help us to accelerate our research and development efforts for novel AAV-based gene therapies for rare diseases and house critical corporate functions including finance, quality assurance and project management, while providing ample space as we continue to bring new talent to our team,” Sue Washer, president and chief executive officer of AGTC said in a statement.
AGTC's lead product candidates focus on X-linked retinoschisis, achromatopsia and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, which are inherited orphan diseases of the eye, caused by mutations in single genes that significantly affect visual function and currently lack effective medical treatments. Retinoschisis is a condition in which an area of the retina has separated into two layers. The part of the retina that is affected by retinoschisis will have suboptimal vision, according to the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center. Achromatopsia is a condition of the eye that is characterized by an absence (partial or total) of color vision. People with the complete form of achromatopsia are unable to perceive any colors and can only see black, white and shades of gray.
AGTC is also pursuing pre-clinical development of treatments for wet AMD using the company's experience in ophthalmology to expand into disease indications with larger markets.
In August, AGTC’s research was bolstered by a $1 billion deal with Biogen to support the company’s gene-based therapies. As part of the deal, Biogen holds a license to AGTC’s XLRS and XLRP programs and an additional three licenses, BioSpace reported in August.
David Day, assistant vice president & director of the Office of Technology Licensing at the University of Florida, touted the growth of the biotech sector in north central Florida.
“AGTC's progress in developing novel treatments for rare diseases without adequate therapeutic options is a particularly good model for the entire biotechnology sector,” Day said in a statement.
AGTC is not the only vision-focused company to set up shop in north central Florida. Vistakon, a division of Johnson & Johnson , expanded its facility in Jacksonville, Fla., about 70 miles north of Gainesville. The company invested about $300 million to the site, adding about 100 jobs.
In December, AGTC was selected for addition to the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index. Company stock is currently trading at $14.15 per share, up slightly from its opening price of $14 per share. However, AGTC stock is down since December, when it was trading at $21.14 per share.