jCyte Enters into Licensing Agreement with Santen Pharmaceutical for Cell Therapy
Emerging treatment designed to preserve vision for people with RP and related conditions
jCyte, a developer of regenerative therapies for retinal degenerative diseases, has executed a licensing agreement with Santen Pharmaceutical, a global leader in ophthalmology marketing. Under the agreement, jCyte is to receive up to $252 million, including $50 million in upfront cash, $12 million in a convertible note offering (loan that converts to equity for lender), and up to $190 million in potential milestone payments in Europe, Asia, and Japan, as well as royalties on net commercial sales in the US.
“The agreement gives jCyte strong financial support for an emerging therapy for people with inherited retinal diseases and we look forward to forthcoming Phase 2b trial results of its cell therapy.” says Brian Mansfield, PhD, executive vice president for research and interim chief scientific officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness.
Currently in a Phase 2b clinical trial, jCyte’s treatment is an injection of retinal progenitor cells — cells similar to stem cells that haven't yet fully developed into mature photoreceptors, the retinal cells that provide vision. The progenitor cells are injected into the vitreous, the soft, gel-like substance in the middle of the eye. Intravitreal injections have a good record of safety and are commonly administered for other conditions in a doctor's office. The goal of jCyte's treatment is to rescue and reactivate the recipients' remaining photoreceptors before they die. The emerging therapy is for people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and related conditions.
In a Phase 1/2a clinical trial, the treatment was evaluated for 12 months in 28 people at two sites in Southern California. Side effects were minor in the safety-oriented trial. Those receiving the highest dose of the treatment had the best results. Their visual acuity, as measured using an eye chart, was nearly two lines (nine letters) better in their treated eyes than in their untreated eyes. Some participants reported increased light sensitivity, improved color vision, better mobility, and improved reading ability. Ultimately, 22 of the 28 participants had their second eye treated.
More than 100 people have now received the emerging therapy.