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Treating gene defects with enzymes

The American biotechnology company Genzyme has its German company site in the Stromeyersdorf industrial area in Constance, where 26 Genzyme staff service the Eastern European and Central Asian markets. 35 other staff man local offices in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Ukraine, in order to boost the company’s Eastern European business. All the overseas staff speak the local language of the country where they are based.

Genzyme sells drugs from the company’s site in Constance-Stromeyersdorf. © F. von Stechow

The Constance-based company was first set up in 1995 as a one-woman company. Back then, the company's managing director, Dr. Ute Stölzle, turned the guest room of her house in Wollmatingen into a Genzyme subsidiary. The company grew and by the year 2000, it already had a staff of 10, so Stölzle started to look for more space for the company. A newly renovated building in the Bleiche industrial premises in Stromeyersdorf seemed perfectly suited for her purposes and 250,000 German Marks were invested in the transformation of the rooms into modern offices. Ute Stölze also considered the transport connections to be more than ideal, in particular the proximity of the company site to Zurich airport, a popular arrival point for visitors, business partners and the company's overseas staff. "All of us enjoy the close vicinity to the Rhine, the local gastronomy and the beer garden right next door. This creates an excellent business climate and the Constance office has become a popular venue for company meetings," said Ute Stölzle.

Constance-based Genzyme initially had 171 square meters of office space; this has since grown to around 850 square metres, making the company the largest on the Bleiche industrial premises. In 2008, the company achieved revenues of 48 million euros and a 59% higher growth rate than in 2007. The international Genzyme team, for whom English is the business language, consists of physicians, biologists, biochemists, business economists and economists. The team is responsible for planning the sales and commercialisation of products for medical areas such as innate metabolic diseases, nephrology, oncology and orthopaedics.

Six trainees have already successfully completed courses to become office communication clerks. Genzyme Corporation, which is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA is one of the leading biotechnology companies in the world. In 2009 the scientific journal "Science" has once again awarded Genzyme the title of "Top Employer", one of the best employers worldwide. Since its foundation in 1981, Genzyme has grown from a small start-up company into a world leader with more than 11,000 employees. The company develops drugs that make life easier for many patients around the world.

The company's research activities focus on therapies for diseases for which only inadequate treatments or no treatments at all are currently available. This includes diseases such as leukaemia, thyroid cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthrosis, kidney and genetic diseases. Genzyme achieved a breakthrough with the development of an enzyme replacement therapy for Gaucher's disease, a rare hereditary disease caused by the deficiency of an enzyme (glucocerebrosidase) which acts on a fatty substance (glucosylceramide). Defective enzymes cause the fatty substance to accumulate in a range of organs such as the kidneys, bone marrow, lungs and brain, which can lead to severe symptoms. If left untreated the disease can make patients' lives virtually unbearable and can lead to a fatal outcome. Thanks to the drug Cerezyme, patients can lead fairly normal lives. If the costs arising from the therapy are not taken on by insurance companies or government health systems, it is part of the company's philosophy to help patients who cannot afford to buy the drugs. Genzyme has developed specific help programmes for this purpose.

The company's employees in Constance are also committed to voluntary work aimed at helping patients in difficulty. This year Genzyme employees participated in the "Night flea market" in Constance and in the Lake Constance megathlon in order to raise money for the association: "Initiative for people suffering from hereditary metabolic diseases in Eastern Europe". The money raised will be used to purchase an infusion device for a hospital in Kaluga, Russia.

 

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/press-release/treating-gene-defects-with-enzymes