SparingVision Raises €44.5 Million for Gene-Independent RP Therapy
The company is planning a clinical trial for its emerging neuroprotective treatment in 2021
SparingVision, a French biotech focused on ocular diseases, has raised €44.5 million to support the development of SPVNo6, its gene therapy designed to preserve cone photoreceptors, and therefore vision, in people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), independent of the mutated gene causing their vision loss. Most of the funding will support the establishment of good manufacturing practices (GMP) to produce clinic-ready therapy for a planned human study in 2021.
The Foundation is providing €5 million in new funding — in addition to its original €7 million investment — for the SPVNo6 development effort.
SparingVision also announced appointment of its Chairman of the Board, Stéphane Boissel, as chief executive officer.
Benjamin Yerxa, PhD, chief executive officer at the Foundation Fighting Blindness, is on the SparingVision Board.
“We are excited to be an investor in SparingVision and the development of its promising therapy, which has the potential to save vision for thousands of people with RP and Usher syndrome,” says Dr. Yerxa. “While we fund a variety of approaches for treating retinal diseases, including those that have a genetic basis, the Foundation is strongly committed to gene-agnostic therapies such as SPVNo6 because of their broad reach.”
SPVNo6 is comprised of a protein known as rod-derived cone-viability factor (RdCVF) and an antioxidative enzyme. RdCVF is a naturally occurring protein in the retina identified by SparingVision co-founders José Sahel, MD, and Thierry Léveillard, PhD, at the Institut de la Vision. The scientists demonstrated in laboratory studies that RdCVF prevented or slowed the degeneration of cones, the cells in the retina that provide central and color vision, and enable people to read, drive, and recognize faces. RdCVF is naturally secreted by rods, the retinal cells that provide night and peripheral vision, and initially lost in RP.
Current SparingVision investors include: 4BIO Capital, UPMC Enterprises, Jeito Capital, Ysios Capital, BpiFrance, and the Foundation Fighting Blindness.