The new portfolio company has been created by Syncona through the combination of Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation’s (AGTC’s) late-stage programme in X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), with two other pre-clinical programmes.
Syncona’s holding value in Beacon is £60 million, having committed £75 million to the company, including the capital already invested to acquire and restructure AGTC.
At the point all current commitments are invested, the life sciences investment firm will have a 65.3% stake in Beacon.
Syncona led the financing round alongside additional investors including Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE).
The Series A financing will be used to advance Beacon’s gene therapy candidates through to key value inflection points, including its lead programme AGTC-501, which is currently in phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of XLRP, an inherited monogenic disorder that leads to progressive vision loss in males.
In addition, Beacon has two promising pre-clinical programmes that Syncona has identified. The first asset is an intravitreally delivered gene therapy for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people over 60, and the second has been in-licensed from the University of Oxford and is targeting cone-rod dystrophy (CRD), a group of inherited vision loss disorders affecting the retina.
Syncona has combined these assets with AGTC’s later-stage asset in XLRP to create its third ophthalmic gene therapy company, following Nightstar, which sold for $877 million and Gyroscope, which was sold for up to $1.5 billion.
"By acquiring AGTC and combining its late-stage programme with highly complementary and innovative science from the University of Oxford and elsewhere, we have created an exciting new gene therapy company in an area where we have a great breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise,” said Chris Hollowood, CEO of Syncona.
“The creation of this unique company demonstrates Syncona’s creativity and the proactive and proprietary nature of our approach to sourcing new opportunities.
“We have the opportunity to leverage our expertise, track record and network to support Beacon Therapeutics as it develops gene therapies for people suffering from debilitating inherited retinal diseases. We look forward to working closely with Beacon Therapeutics’ exceptional management team to advance these assets through the clinic and towards patients.”
David Fellows, CEO of Beacon Therapeutics added: “Beacon Therapeutics combines a broad development pipeline, a deep scientific foundation, a strong clinical network, and a highly experienced management team to drive forward a unique late-stage clinical and pre-clinical pipeline.”
“With the 12-month data from our Phase II SKYLINE trial for AGTC-501 expected shortly and two highly innovative and differentiated pipeline assets for prevalent and rare blinding diseases, we are excited to be building a new leader in the ophthalmic gene therapy space.”