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Oxford BioMedica signs glaucoma R&D deal

Oxford, UK-based biotech partners with the Mayo Clinic on novel gene therapy

Oxford BioMedica has signed a research deal with Mayo Clinic to investigate a novel gene therapy for chronic glaucoma.

The partners will undertake pre-clinical studies using UK-based Oxford BioMedica's LentiVector gene delivery technology expressing a COX-2 gene and a PGF-2a receptor gene.

The technology aims to reduce intraocular pressure, something current treatments, such as eye drops, or eye surgery rely on to achieve.

Dr Eric Poeschla is professor of medicine at US-based non-profit medical care and research organisation the Mayo Clinic.

"Numerous aspects of glaucoma are favourable for this approach," he said. "The disease's lifelong persistence and the incomplete efficacy and adherence seen with current treatment methods are two of the main problems that make achieving a sustained therapeutic effect via gene therapy an appealing prospect.

"In addition, the target tissues involved in regulating intraocular pressure are relatively small and confined, which enhances gene delivery feasibility. Finally, we have shown that the approach causes sustained reduction in intraocular pressure in pre-clinical models."

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterised by vision loss – and potentially blindness - due to damage of the optic nerve affecting over 60 million people worldwide, and more than 90 per cent of cases are classed as primary open-angle glaucoma (also known as chronic glaucoma).

The companies' deal includes an option for Oxford BioMedica to gain exclusive US rights to Mayo's glaucoma technology and could see them move another novel ocular gene therapy into clinical development.

31st October 2011

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