Author(s): Bettina Klug, Patrick Celis, Melanie Carr, Jens Reinhardt
Taking into account the complexity and technical specificity of advanced therapy medicinal products: (gene and cell therapy medicinal products and tissue engineered products), a dedicated European regulatory framework was needed. Regulation (EC) No. 1394/2007, the "ATMP Regulation" provides tailored regulatory principles for the evaluation and authorization of these innovative medicines. The majority of gene or cell therapy product development is carried out by academia, hospitals, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Thus, acknowledging the particular needs of these types of sponsors, the legislation also provides incentives for product development tailored to them. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and, in particular, its Committee for Advanced Therapies (CAT) provide a variety of opportunities for early interaction with developers of ATMPs to enable them to have early regulatory and scientific input. An important tool to promote innovation and the development of new medicinal products by micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises is the EMA's SME initiative launched in December 2005 to offer financial and administrative assistance to smaller companies. The European legislation also foresees the involvement of stakeholders, such as patient organizations, in the development of new medicines. Considering that gene therapy medicinal products are developed in many cases for treatment of rare diseases often of monogenic origin, the involvement of patient organizations, which focus on rare diseases and genetic and congenital disorders, is fruitful. Two such organizations are represented in the CAT. Research networks play another important role in the development of gene therapy medicinal products. The European Commission is funding such networks through the EU Sixth Framework Program.