Oxford BioMedica Sign Agreement with Mayo Clinic

UK company Oxford BioMedica announced today that they have linked up with the USA’s renowned Mayo Clinic to develop a novel gene therapy for the treatment of chronic glaucoma.

Under the agreement, the companies will undertake pre-clinical studies to establish the feasibility of treating glaucoma using Oxford BioMedica’s LentiVector gene delivery technology expressing a COX-2 gene and a PGF-2 alpha receptor gene to reduce intraocular pressure.

The collaboration contains an option for exclusive US rights to license Mayo Clinic’s glaucoma technology, which can be exercise upon completion of pre-clinical studies under confidential terms agreed by the two companies.  The partnership builds on earlier pre-clinical research, conducted by Mayo Clinic, which has established initial proof-of-concept for this approach to treating chronic glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a collection of eye diseases characterised by vision loss due to damage of the optic nerve affecting over 60 million people worldwide.  Over 90% of glaucoma is classed as primary open-angle glaucoma, which results from a partial blockage within the trabecular meshwork of the eye, the tissue mainly responsible for draining the internal fluid of the eye (aqueous humour).  As the aqueous humour builds up, it causes increased intraocular pressure which can damage the optic nerve.  Damaged parts of the nerve and retina lead to permanent patches of vision loss and, in some cases, blindness.

Existing treatment options for glaucoma aim to decrease intraocular pressure either through topical methods (e.g. eye drops) or eye surgery, however these approaches are not effective in all cases.

Dr Eric Poeschla at Mayo Clinic, commented that “the disease’s lifelong persistence and the incomplete efficacy and adherence seen with current treatment methods are two of the main problems that make achieving a sustained therapeutic effect via gene therapy an appealing prospect.  In addition, the target tissues involved in regulating intraocular pressure are relatively small and confined, which enhances gene delivery feasibility.  Finally, we have shown that the approach causes sustained reduction in intraocular pressure in pre-clinical models.”

The deal has gone down well with analysts at Singer Capital Markets who said “this is exciting news” for Oxford BioMedica as the agreement “offers both a further scientific validation of its gene delivery technology and an opportunity to ultimately add another candidate drug to its stable of four ocular development programmes”.  The previous four projects – Retinostat, StarGen, UshStat and EncorStat – are being developed with Sanofi.



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