SparingVision raises €44.5m for retinitis pigmentosa gene therapy

French biotech SparingVision has raised 44.5 million euros ($52.7 million) to develop its gene therapy for a rare ocular disease.

The round was led by 4BIO Capital and UPMC Enterprises with Jeito Capital and Ysios Capital joining.

Current investors Bpifrance and Foundation Fighting Blindness also participated.

In a statement, the company said funds will be used to further develop SparingVision’s SPVNo6, for treating all forms of the rare eye disease retinitis pigmentosa.

SPVN06 is a proprietary, mutation-agnostic, AAV gene therapy consisting of one neurotrophic factor and one oxidative stress reducing enzyme which, acting together, aim to slow or stop the degeneration of photoreceptors.

Loss of photoreceptors leads to blindness in RP, one of the most common inherited retinal diseases that affects two million patients worldwide. There is currently no treatment approved for RP patients independently of their genetic background.

The financing will support manufacturing of a first clinical batch of the product, regulatory activities and a first human study scheduled to start next year.

The Paris-based company intends to further expand its management team and begin operations in the US. SparingVision announced the appointment of Stephane Boissel as CEO of the company. Boissel was previously executive vice president of corporate strategy at gene editing biotech Sangamo Therapeutics.

Prior to that, he was CEO of TxCell, the CAR-Treg company sold to Sangamo in 2018.

He has also headed up the molecular diagnostic company Genclis and was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Innate Pharma and Transgene.

Earlier this year, Oxford Biomedica and Sanofi ended a partnership focused on rare eye diseases including retinitis pigmentosa.

Sanofi handed back rights to two ophthalmology gene therapies, one of which is in development for retinitis pigmentosa.

The UK biotech said in June that it would start an internal review of the two gene therapies.

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