Two Syncona-backed players join forces to take on retinal gene therapies
With ambitions to build an eye gene-therapy powerhouse, UK-based Gyroscope Therapeutics is swallowing US-based device maker Orbit Biomedical, which is focused on sub-retinal surgical delivery technology.
The combination of the two Syncona-backed players — which will operate under the Gyroscope name — will be led by former Genentech executive Khurem Farooq, who was responsible for managing the commercial activities of Lucentis and involved in the pre-launch work for lampalizumab at the Roche company.
Gyroscope is hoping to engineer medicines to cure blindness-causing retinal diseases by combining its gene therapy development and manufacturing tools with Orbit’s surgical platform.
The company — founded by Syncona and Cambridge Enterprise — is currently conducting its first clinical study in patients with geographic atrophy caused by dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of age-related blindness in the industrialized world. The experimental therapy, GT005, is designed to restore the balance of a complement system known to be hyperactivated in patients with AMD.
Gyroscope’s Soraya Bekkali, who led the company into the clinic as CEO, is now going to be in charge of the combined company’s R&D engine. Meanwhile, Susan Hill, who led the launch of Orbit, will come as the combined company’s chief business officer.
Earlier this week, the maker of the blockbuster AMD drug Eylea, Regeneron $REGN tied the knot with RNAi major Alnylam $ALNY to among other things, find a way to protect the franchise it’s built for the flagship drug, after consciously uncoupling from its long term partner Sanofi $SNY.
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