Joining the Big Pharma rush to pick up potentially valuable gene therapy tech, Roche has expanded its partnership with 4D Molecular Therapeutics to work on a drug for night blindness, among other ophthalmology programs.
Roche had first partnered with the Emeryville, California-based biotech back in 2016, when the duo was researching a small handful of rare retinal disease indications. Now, it’s expanded that commitment to take in ophthalmology programs that include prospects for much larger markets.
The progress of Spark and its gene therapy hit Luxturna — along with new partnerships forged by its pharma brethren Pfizer and Novartis — likely laid the groundwork for Roche to reconsider its partnership with 4DMT.
Roche and 4DMT’s first collaboration program is for 4D-110, a clinical candidate to treat choroideremia (an inherited form of night blindness that can show up in early childhood). 4DMT is just now doing IND-enabling studies on the program. 4D-110 already has some advanced competition in the field, as London’s Nightstar $NITE is also tackling this disease with a Phase III gene therapy drug.
4DMT’s edge would be its adeno-associated virus platform, which the company says is superior to its rivals.
The partnership also includes additional clinical candidate programs that are underway to treat retinal diseases with high unmet need, 4DMT says. The company’s CEO David Kirn said this in a statement:
Together we elected to expand our partnership after 4DMT completed proprietary intravitreal vector discovery and characterization. We have created clear synergies between 4D’s vector discovery, gene therapy development and manufacturing capabilities and Roche’s expertise in late-stage clinical development and global biologics commercialization. The decision to expand our partnership represents validation of our ophthalmology platform, clinical candidates and team.
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