SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Feb. 21, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (Nasdaq:BMRN) announced today that it has licensed a Factor VIII gene therapy program for hemophilia A from University College London (UCL) and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The company expects to select a development candidate this year, initiate and complete IND-enabling toxicology studies next year and initiate proof of concept human studies by the end of 2014. The license and commitment to support the research program was made possible by UCL Business, UCL's wholly-owned technology transfer company, working with Professor Amit Nathwani of the UCL Cancer Institute. "Gene therapy is emerging as a powerful and viable way to treat genetic disorders and is complementary to our current suite of commercial products and research programs," said Jean-Jacques Bienaimé, Chief Executive Officer of BioMarin. "Hemophilia is an attractive target for gene therapy as factor levels in the blood serve as good biomarkers, relatively low factor levels are required for a clinically important benefit in severe patients and the current standard of care of intravenous infusions three times a week is quite onerous. We remain committed to maintaining a rich pipeline with the goal of filing an IND every twelve to eighteen months." Mr. Cengiz Tarhan, Managing Director of UCL Business said, "This is an excellent partnership for UCL Business, which combines the world class translational research strengths of Professor Nathwani and his team with the significant development and commercialization capabilities of BioMarin to progress this ground breaking therapy for hemophilia A." Professor Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) at University College London added, "UCL and BioMarin each bring distinct strengths to the partnership. UCL is a world leader in the biomedical sciences, with an unremitting commitment to outstanding research and translation into healthcare benefits for patients. We welcome this partnership which will continue to build on the excellence of our research to fully explore the potential of gene therapy as a life-saving treatment for people with hemophilia."