Sanofi has committed to an initial $40m in Gyroscope, at a premium to Gyroscope’s prior Series C financing, and the remaining $20m from the French pharmaceutical giant will be invested contingent on a future qualifying investment round and subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions.
Founded in 2016 and with bases in the UK and US, Gyroscope is developing gene therapy beyond rare disease to treat diseases of the eye that cause vision loss and blindness. Its lead investigational gene therapy, GT005, is currently being evaluated in Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is a leading cause of permanent vision loss in people aged 55+. The disease affects more than 5 million people globally and there are currently no approved treatments.
GT005 is an investigational AAV2-based gene therapy for GA secondary to AMD that is designed to be a one-time treatment delivered under the retina. GT005 aims to restore balance to an overactive complement system, a part of the immune system, by increasing production of the Complement Factor I (CFI) protein, which regulates the activity of the complement system.
Complement overactivation can lead to inflammation that damages healthy tissues, and it has been strongly correlated with the development and progression of AMD. It is believed that increasing CFI production could reduce inflammation, with the goal of preserving a person’s eyesight.
GT005 has received Fast Track designation from the US FDA for the treatment of people with GA.
“We are thrilled to welcome Sanofi onboard as an investor in Gyroscope. Their investment is a testament to the promise of our science and gene therapy programmes to make a difference for people with serious eye diseases,” said Khurem Farooq, CEO, Gyroscope.
“We believe GT005 has the potential to be the first gene therapy for geographic atrophy, a devastating cause of vision loss for more than 5 million people globally, and were pleased to recently announce additional encouraging data from our ongoing Phase I/II FOCUS clinical trial.”
Under the terms of the agreement, a Sanofi R&D executive will join the Gyroscope Clinical Advisory Board to advise on matters related to the development of GT005 for GA secondary to AMD. Additionally, Gyroscope has granted Sanofi an exclusive right of first refusal on certain potential future transactions for GT005 in select geographies.
Gyroscope plans to use proceeds from this investment to support funding of ongoing clinical trials of GT005 in GA.
In December, Janssen Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to Hemera Biosciences’ investigational gene therapy HMR59: also targeted at geographic atrophy AMD.