Oxford BioMedica enters glaucoma agreement

Will collaborate with Mayo Clinic to develop gene therapy for chronic glaucoma

Oxford BioMedica, a UK gene-based biopharmaceutical company, is to work with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA on the development of a novel gene therapy for the treatment of chronic glaucoma.

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

The collaboration includes an option for exclusive US rights to Mayo Clinic’s glaucoma technology, which Oxford BioMedica can exercise upon completion of pre-clinical studies under confidential terms agreed by the firms.

The collaboration builds on earlier pre-clinical research conducted by Mayo Clinic’s Eric Poeschla and his research team, which has established initial proof-of-concept for this approach to treating chronic glaucoma. This work will be extended using LentiVector technology and may support the rapid transition of another novel ocular gene therapy into clinical development.

Current treatment options for glaucoma aim to reduce intraocular pressure either through topical methods (e.g. eye drops) or eye surgery, however these approaches are not always effective. Patient compliance with topical treatments can be poor, especially in those requiring daily application, and many therapies have side effects, which can restrict chronic use.

Oxford BioMedica has conducted pre-clinical and clinical studies that suggest a single application of its LentiVector products can provide sustained or permanent therapeutic activity. By using a novel gene therapy to provide long-term control of intraocular pressure, this approach could minimise the risk of disease progression.

Stuart Naylor, chief scientific officer of Oxford BioMedica, said: ‘We are pleased to be working with Mayo Clinic, a global leader in medical research, on a potential treatment for glaucoma that will further leverage our LentiVector platform technology and broaden our ocular development pipeline.’

Poeschla commented: ‘Numerous aspects of glaucoma are favourable for this approach. 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.’

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