RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc. (AskBio) has launched a unique outreach program to communicate information and support during clinical trials to patients and their families.

The company says the new offering, called AskFirst, may be a key component for the future of gene therapy.

The company’s adeno-associated virus (AAV) used in gene therapy trials is providing transformative approaches for battling diseases that were formerly considered untreatable.  AskFirst patient-focused approach accommodates the welfare and voice of those undergoing treatment.

Matthew Aslante, director of patient advocacy, was hired to manage the new program. He has an extensive history in patient advocacy at the National Pancreas Foundation and Sarcoma Foundation of America.

“AskBio has a long history of commitment to the patient community, and I’m honored to build upon that foundation and provide an external link to the important, life-changing work that is happening here,” said Aslante. “The patient voice is vital to everything we do. It’s my job to bring that into every aspect of gene therapy development, because we can’t do it without the incredible partnerships we have with patients and the patient community.”

The AskFirst addition comes just two months after AskBio announced a collaboration with SQZ that will open the doors for new genetic treatments by combining proprietary cell and gene therapy platform technologies. The partnership will address AAV immunogenicity with AskBio’s gene therapies and administration of SQZ TACs.

TACs are developed from red blood cells to induce tolerance to unwanted immune activity and allow for increased patient access and repeat treatment. That can enable a full and durable benefit from the therapy.

Founded in 2001, AskBio is a privately held, clinical-stage gene therapy platform company dedicated to improving the lives of people with genetic disorders. Its platform includes an industry-leading proprietary cell line manufacturing process known as Pro10 and an extensive AAV capsid library.

Based in Research Triangle Park, the company has generated hundreds of proprietary third-generation gene vectors, several of which have entered clinical testing. An early innovator in the space, the company holds more than 500 patents in areas such as AAV production, chimeric vectors, and self-complementary DNA, and has spun out four gene therapy companies.

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