Patients with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy who received bilateral injections of Gensight Biologics SA’s Lumevoq (lenadogene nolparvovec) are continuing to see statistically significant visual improvements three years into the phase III REFLECT trial, but the missed primary endpoint at 1.5 years, along with a series of manufacturing mishaps, have left the gene therapy’s approval prospects uncertain.
Ophthalmic startup Eluminex Biosciences Ltd. closed a $40 million series B round to progress its pipeline of ophthalmic assets and recombinant human collagen technology. Eluminex’s pipeline includes multi-targeted antibody molecules for vision-threatening retinal diseases and an oral small molecule for rare inherited pediatric retinal dystrophies, but its lead asset, EB-301, is a biosynthetic cornea derived from recombinant human type III collagen.
After a delay in November that resulted in a new PDUFA date, Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Syfovre (pegcetacoplan injection) received U.S. FDA approval for treating geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration. While this is the first and only FDA-approved treatment for GA, there is competition afoot from Belite Bio Inc. and Iveric Bio Inc. The intravitreal targeted C3 therapy’s Feb. 17 approval of the priority NDA came more than a week ahead of its Feb. 26 PDUFA.
A phase IIb clinical study has Frequency Therapeutics Inc. reeling and making big changes, including layoffs. The placebo-controlled phase IIb study of FX-322 in treating acquired sensorineural hearing loss by regenerating hair cells in the cochlea missed its primary efficacy endpoint, so the company is discontinuing the program. It’s also shutting down a phase Ib study of FX-345, a program for treating the same indication.
Ocuphire Pharma Inc. is marching ahead despite falling short of the primary endpoint in top-line data from the Zeta-1 phase II study testing oral APX-3330 in diabetic retinopathy (DR). The trial did not achieve its goal with regard to the percentage of patients with a ≥2-step improvement in Diabetic Retinopathy Severity Score at week 24 in the study eye. Ocuphire plans to schedule an end-of-phase II meeting with the U.S. FDA to review the results.
The eyes certainly have it. There are plenty of ocular gene therapies being studied in a crowded field and now there is a new one as Perceive Biotherapeutics Inc. has closed on a $78 million series B financing.
Word that big pharma firms are sniffing around Horizon Therapeutics plc as a takeover candidate caused not only that firm’s shares to jump but also provided a boost for Viridian Therapeutics Inc., which has a thyroid eye disease (TED) candidate set to challenge Horizon’s Tepezza (teprotumumab-trbw), cleared by the U.S. FDA in January 2020.
A lackluster efficacy signal has prompted Editas Medicine Inc. to pause enrollment in a phase I/II trial of its CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing therapy, EDIT-101, which is in development for patients with a particular form of Leber congenital amaurosis type 10.
Newco Breye Therapeutics ApS is poised to repurpose an intravenously administered drug that failed in ischemia reperfusion injury as an orally available treatment for diabetic retinopathy, after closing a €4 million (US$4.1 million) seed round.
Shares of Oyster Point Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ:OYST) soared to $11.57, or 38.6% on word of the buyout by Viatris Inc., which is also taking over privately held, development-stage Famy Life Sciences Ltd. to create an ophthalmology franchise that Viatris estimates could mean at least $1 billion in sales by 2028 as well as at least $500 million more in adjusted EBITDA.