Complement raises €72m for geographic atrophy gene therapy


UK start-up Complement Therapeutics has raised an impressive €72 million ($79 million) in first-round financing that will be used to take a gene therapy for sight-robbing disease geographic atrophy into clinical trials.

The University of Manchester spinout – first formed in 2021 – said the cash injection will allow it to complete a phase 1b trial of the CTx001 gene therapy, bulk up its R&D operations in Stevenage, and start development of other pipeline candidates.

The phase 1b trial will enrol patients with geographic atrophy secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness.

While there are multiple therapies available for AMD, there are so far limited treatment options for patients with the disease who go on to develop geographic atrophy – an advanced form of the disease characterised by the loss of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells in the central portion of the retina known as the macula.

Complement Therapeutics has already started a non-interventional natural history study in the UK, called i-GAIN, that is investigating the relationships between circulating levels of complement proteins and geographic atrophy secondary to AMD, and is intended to help design clinical trials for CTx001.

It has also signed up Liverpool-based contract manufacturer Pharmaron to produce initial supplies of the adeno-associated virus (AAV) based gene therapy for clinical testing, with a timeline to start first-in-human studies in the second half of next year.

The Series A was led by Gimv, a Belgian-based private equity and venture capital fund, co-led by Forbion as an existing investor with participation by BioGeneration Ventures (BGV), Panakès Partners, Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), Hadean Ventures, and Seroba Life Sciences.

The size of the round reflects the strong interest among investors for potential therapies for geographic atrophy, which affects around eight million people around the world.

Earlier this year, Apellis Pharma became the first company to claim FDA approval for a drug to treat the condition, Syfovre (pegcetacoplan), which also targets the complement system.

Syfovre needs to be injected into the eye every 25 to 60 days, and companies like Complement Therapeutics are trying to develop gene therapies that could manage the disease with a single injection.

Others operating in this area include Novartis, which acquired its GT005 candidate when it bought Gyroscope Therapeutics last year – now in phase 2 – as well as Johnson & Johnson’s pharma unit Janssen, which bought rights to a gene therapy for geographic atrophy from Hemera Biosciences in 2021.