Gene genie collaboration

May 6, 2009

A new collaboration between Oxford BioMedica and Sanofi-Aventis is to develop and commercialise gene therapy treatments for retinal degenerative diseases such as Stargardt disease, the form of early-onset macular degeneration and Usher syndrome, a relatively rare genetic disease where sufferers are born deaf and lose vision within the first 10 years of life.

A new collaboration between Oxford BioMedica and Sanofi-Aventis is to develop and commercialise gene therapy treatments for retinal degenerative diseases such as Stargardt disease, the form of early-onset macular degeneration and Usher syndrome, a relatively rare genetic disease where sufferers are born deaf and lose vision within the first 10 years of life.

The collaboration should greatly assist in the development of several gene therapy products: StarGen for the treatment of Stargardt disease, a form of early-onset macular degeneration; UshStat for the treatment of Usher syndrome, the leading cause of deaf-blindness, RetinoStat for the treatment of AMD and EncorStat for corneal graft rejection.

“The investment from Sanofi-Aventis is a wonderful boost for the development of Oxford BioMedica's gene therapy products and will greatly enhance our ability to move these emerging treatments into and through the clinical trial process,” says Stephen Rose, PhD, chief research officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. “This collaboration affirms the great potential for gene therapy to treat and cure a number of retinal degenerative diseases including Stargardt disease and Usher syndrome that, as rare diseases, often do not receive the attention or investment necessary to bring about promising treatments.”

Oxford BioMedica will receive around 43 million euros from Sanofi-Aventis over a three-year period and will be eligible to receive additional fees if development efforts are successful. The treatments will use Oxford BioMedica's LentiVector gene delivery technology to deliver healthy vision-saving genes to the retina.