A biotechnology firm that specialises in gene therapy has said it expects to create 11 high-value jobs in Edinburgh under a multi-million pound research and development programme.

The investment by AskBio will fund research that the company hopes will help it to cut the cost of manufacturing gene therapies and to increase the number of diseases they can treat.

It is working on therapies for genetic conditions such as congestive heart failure and Pompe disease, which can cause serious respiratory and heart problems.

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AskBio has secured £1.99m official support in the form of a research and development grant from Scottish Enterprise.

The company said it will invest £3.4m alongside the grant from the agency.

The investment underlines the confidence that the American firm has in Scotland’s biotechnology capability.

AskBio acquired the Edinburgh-based Synpromics gene therapy business in August last year for an undisclosed sum.

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Synpromics’ chief executive David Venables became president of AskBio Europe.

He said the Scottish Enterprise grant will allow the firm to undertake important research into the scalability of gene therapy manufacturing to help bring potentially transformative therapies to more patients.

Innovation Minister, Ivan McKee, said the R&D funding could support work that could have life-changing results for patients while creating new and highly skilled job opportunities in Edinburgh.

He noted: “It is important that that we continue to support global innovation and build Scotland’s world-leading life science sector.”

AskBio employs 40 people in Edinburgh currently.

Technology developed by North Carolina-based AskBio is used in therapies for the treatment of patients with inherited retinal disease and of patients with spinal muscular atrophy.

The company is focused on developing adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapies. It says the virus can be used as an effective delivery system for therapeutic genetic material into living tissue.

It said: “Currently, AAV manufacturing is highly complex and historically inefficient with a high cost that limits some patients’ ability to access treatment. Developing economical, scalable processes is therefore a priority.”