NARILIS is a partner in the GT4Health project, an ambitious new gene therapy research programme

The Walloon Region has recently selected the GT4Health project for funding under its Win4Excellence programme. This project, led by ULiège, is a multidisciplinary collaboration involving five French-speaking Belgian universities (ULiège, ULB, UCLouvain, UNamur and UMons), as well as the CER Groupe.

With funding of more than 10 million euros, the researchers aim to develop disruptive strategic research in the field of gene therapy and to strengthen Wallonia's position on the international stage. This project will use viral and non-viral vectors to develop innovative personalized therapeutic solutions to tackle inherited chronic diseases and cancers. GT4Health is planning an integrated research programme focusing on key challenges, including design and formulation, production and control methods, as well as in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies. GT4Health has identified four main areas for the evaluation of gene therapy products, namely diabetes, cancer (with a focus on breast cancer), chronic liver disease, and gene manipulation of haematopoietic stem cells. This approach will enable the validation of objectives in therapeutic targets presenting different levels of difficulty, ranging from relatively accessible targets such as the liver to more challenging ones like the pancreas.

On the UNamur side, it is Prof. Jonathan Douxfils, director of the Research Unit in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, group leader at NARILIS and CEO of QUALIblood s.a.,who will be taking an active part in this research. His team will contribute by creating models to assess therapeutic response, immunogenicity, and toxicity of viral and non-viral vectors, either developed by GT4Health partners or commercially available. In recent years, they acquired expertise in evaluating resistance to adenovirus-based therapies and has patented one of their cell-based models. His team is actively searching for a PhD student and a lab technologist to start this project in the second semester of 2024.

GT4Health strives not just to enhance researchand clinical development in gene therapy but also to facilitate the production onan industrial scale of these therapies. The project will therefore be further supportedby four companies: UCB, Genflow, Exothera, and the UNamur spin-off QUALIblood.

Read more on UNamur newsroom