SparingVision to buy GAMUT and potential Luxturna eye gene therapy competitor
French genomic medicines firm SparingVision has agreed to buy GAMUT Therapeutics, a biotech specialising in gene therapies for inherited eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) that could compete against Roche/Spark’s Luxturna in a wider patient group.
GAMUT’s lead product, now SPVN20, is a novel, mutation-agnostic gene therapy, which aims at restoring the function of dormant cone cells in the retina.
If approved it would compete with Novartis’ Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec), the gene therapy from Roche/Spark Therapeutics, but with a much broader indication.
Luxturna only works in people with inherited retinal disease due to mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene, about 2% of patients with the condition.
SPVN20 is an AAV vector-based product encoding for a variant of GIRK, a GPCR activated ion channel that could restore sight in patients regardless of the gene that causes their RP.
In preclinical models, expressing GIRK has been shown to reactivate cone function, despite their progressive loss of outer segments, resulting in improved light responses in treated retinas.
The company said that SPVN20 is likely to work well with its other pipeline product, SPVN06, which helps glucose uptake and protects against oxidative stress in the absence of rods during early stages of rod-cone dystrophies.
Beyond RP, SparingVision will explore opportunities to evaluate SPVN20 in other retinal diseases, for which its mechanism of action could also be relevant.
As part of the acquisition agreement, SparingVision has the right to participate in the creation of a new GIRK based cell therapy company that would be started by the founding shareholders of GAMUT with a first GIRK-based product.
GAMUT is a spin-out of the Institut de la Vision in Paris, focused on pioneering the research of scientific founder Dr Deniz Dalkara and her collaborators. It was started in 2020 with seed funding from Advent France Biotechnology
SparingVision is also expecting to appoint Dr Dalkara, as chief scientific officer, subject to the closing of the transaction and the approval of the academic institutions she is affiliated with.
Further financial details were not disclosed, although the deal follows SparingVision’s €44.5 million ($52.7 million) fundraiser in October to develop SPVN06.
Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.