Oxford BioMedica Receives Further Investment under Agreement Led by the Foundation Fighting Blindness
News Feb 06, 2009
Oxford BioMedica has announced that a planned further investment of US$250,000 has been made in the company under the collaboration agreement with the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) through its translational research arm the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI). The investment, which originated from Paul Manning, a director of the NNRI, is supporting the continuing development of StarGen™.
StarGen is Oxford BioMedica’s novel gene therapy, which uses the LentiVector® technology to deliver a corrected version of a gene that is mutated in patients with Stargardt disease, the most common juvenile degenerative retinal disease.
Under the original collaboration agreement announced on 2 October 2006, the FFB and a consortium of investors are committed to invest up to US$3.9 million in the StarGen programme, by subscribing to new Ordinary Shares in Oxford BioMedica. The share subscriptions will be made in stages and priced at a 10% premium to the market price at the time of investment.
“StarGen holds promise for being a highly effective treatment for people affected by recessive Stargardt disease, many forms of cone-rod dystrophy, and other retinal degenerative diseases caused by variations in the ABCA4 gene,” said Stephen Rose, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness.
“These diseases cause substantial vision loss, often at an early age, and there are virtually no treatments available for them. StarGen holds promise for changing the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by these vision-robbing conditions and we would like to thank Paul and Diane Manning for their continued support,” Rose said.
StarGen has shown preclinical efficacy in the only available model of Stargardt disease. A single administration was effective for the duration of the six-month study. Further preclinical development is ongoing or beginning at multiple sites in the USA, including Columbia University, Yerkes Research Center at Emory University and Oregon Health and Science University.
With a crucial need for Stargardt disease treatments and the access to patients through national patient organizations, such as the FFB, StarGen could be commercialized effectively with a small specialist sales force. The disease also qualifies for orphan status, which provides financial, marketing, and drug-approval benefits.
Depending on resources, Oxford BioMedica could commercialize the product on its own, but the Company is also evaluating opportunities with its US collaborators to partner or spin-out the StarGen programme with its other orphan ocular product opportunities.
In treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), physicians can have a hard time telling which newly diagnosed patients have a high risk of severe inflammation or what therapies will be most effective. Now researchers report finding an epigenetic signature in patient cells that appears to predict inflammation risk in a serious type of IBD called Crohn’s disease.