UCL spin-out partners with gene therapy firm on eye drug pipeline

By Fiona BARRY

- Last updated on GMT

Athena and MeiraGTx plan to enter their first drug into clinical trials in Q1 2016.
Athena and MeiraGTx plan to enter their first drug into clinical trials in Q1 2016.

Related tags Gene therapy

University College London is forming a spin-out gene therapy company to develop large molecule treatments for eye disease.

UCL Business PLC, the university’s wholly-owned technology transfer company, announced it has formed Athena Vision Ltd. Athena will partner with MeiraGTx, a UK company founded this year to create biologics for eye and neurodegenerative indications with its own gene regulation platform. Together, they plan to develop and commercialise gene therapy programmes discovered by Robin Ali, head of genetics within UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology.

Clinical plans

The collaboration will begin with four drug candidates for inherited retinal conditions: Leber congenital amaurosis type 2 (LCA2) caused by deficiencies in RPE65; achromatopsia caused by mutations in CNGB3 or CNGA3; and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa caused by mutations in RPGR.

They plan to enter the LCA2 therapy into a Phase I dose-escalation trial in early 2016, supported by resources from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and its partner Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre and Clinical Research Facility particularly will help with translation to early-stage clinical testing.

MeiraGTx has put up the undisclosed capital for the four programmes.

 “We are delighted with such substantial investment to advance novel gene-based therapies. With the formation of this partnership, UK biomedical science continues to demonstrate its importance in the world sphere and, with sustained external and government support, our biomedical research leaders have true potential to bring to fruition innovations in treatment to benefit patients globally,​” commented Philip Luthert, director of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Related topics Bio Developments Pipelines

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