May 19, 2021
$70M US alliance to develop new cell therapies for blinding eye diseases building on FBC funded research
A new strategic research and development (R&D) alliance was announced on May 17, 2021 between BlueRock Therapeutics LP, FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics Inc (FCDI) and Opsis Therapeutics LLC to develop new cell therapies for blinding eye diseases.
Opsis Therapeutics, LLC, a joint venture of FCDI and Dr. David Gamm, M.D., Ph.D. which has developed a technology platform that enables scalable manufacturing of human retinal cells from induced-pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Dr. David Gamm is a Fighting Blindness Canada funded researcher.
As part of the alliance, the companies will combine their collective expertise to drive forward the discovery and development of off-the-shelf iPS cell therapies for three programs focused on dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) containing human retinal pigment epithelial cells and photoreceptor cells, currently in pre-clinical development.
“Fighting Blindness Canada congratulates Dr. David Gamm for this investment into his cell therapy research. Dr. Gamm’s work is making tremendous progress towards clinical trials for cell therapies to restore sight.” said Doug Earle, President & CEO, Fighting Blindness Canada. “Alliances are critical to accelerate the transition of a research discovery from the laboratory through to a treatment that restores sight in patients.”
Under the terms of the agreement, FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics and Opsis Therapeutics will receive an upfront payment of $30 million USD and up to $40 million USD R&D as part of manufacturing funding for the development of the three candidate programs. BlueRock Therapeutics will have the option to license the three programs on a program-by-program basis and will be responsible for development and commercialization of the licensed products.
Fighting Blindness Canada is currently funding Dr. Gamm’s research at the University of Wisconsin for a preclinical evaluation of an iPS cell-derived photoreceptor therapeutic in canine models of retinitis pigmentosa through the Restore Vision 20/20 program.
BlueRock Therapeutics LP, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company and wholly-owned subsidiary of Bayer AG, FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics, Inc. a leading global developer and manufacturer of human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technologies, and Opsis Therapeutics, LLC, a joint venture of FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics (FCDI) and David Gamm, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder, focusing on developing cell therapies for patients with ocular diseases.
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