ReNeuron Group plc has announced that its ReN003 retinal stem cell therapy candidate for retinitis pigmentosa is to receive support from the US-based Foundation Fighting Blindness (“the Foundation”), the world’s leading private source for inherited retinal disease research funding.
The Foundation has already played a key role in advancing ReNeuron’s ReN003 therapy through its funding of earlier pre-clinical work conducted by the Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear (“Schepens”), ReNeuron’s principal US collaborator on the ReN003 programme.
The Foundation is planning to provide additional resources to ReNeuron and its collaborators in support of preparations for initial clinical trials with ReN003, including access to its network of expert pre-clinical and clinical advisers.
The Foundation is also providing further funding towards late pre-clinical work on the ReN003 programme conducted through Schepens.
ReNeuron is using its proprietary human retinal progenitor cells (hRPCs) as the basis of its ReN003 therapeutic candidate targeting retinitis pigmentosa, a group of hereditary diseases of the eye that lead to progressive loss of sight due to cells in the retina becoming damaged and eventually dying.
Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that, when transplanted into the retina, hRPCs have the potential to rescue existing photoreceptors to help preserve vision, as well as mature into fully functional photoreceptors, allowing for the possibility of restored vision.
ReNeuron’s ReN003 therapy benefits from Orphan Drug Designation in both Europe and the US. The Company and its collaborators are currently completing late pre-clinical development of the ReN003 therapy, ahead of an initial clinical trial application planned for later this year.
Dr. Brian Mansfield, the Foundation’s Deputy Chief Research Officer, said: “ReNeuron is well positioned to advance its stem cell therapy for people with retinitis pigmentosa. We are excited about the prospects this treatment holds for potentially saving and restoring vision in these patients. This progress underscores the Foundation’s unique role in providing early support to advance promising research to the point of industry interest and further investment, while continuing to work with companies like ReNeuron to accelerate the path to the clinic.”
Dr. John Sinden, Chief Scientific Officer of ReNeuron, said: “We are delighted that the Foundation Fighting Blindness will be supporting the development of our ReN003 therapeutic candidate for retinitis pigmentosa. In particular, the Foundation’s extensive knowledge, experience and network of advisers will be invaluable to us as we look to progress the ReN003 programme into its clinical phase.”