Eye on Five – March Edition

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Regeneron, Bayer Join to Develop Combined Therapy
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Bayer announced an agreement to jointly develop a combination therapy of the angiopoietin2 (Ang2) antibody nesvacumab and aflibercept for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration or diabetic macular edema. Two separate Phase II clinical studies are evaluating the combination therapy as a co-formulated, single intravitreal injection in patients with the diseases.

Pearson Leaving Valeant, Ackman Joins Board
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International CEO J. Michael Pearson announced his intent to resign because of numerous controversies surrounding the company, but the firm has asked him to stay until the board names his replacement. Meanwhile, William A. Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square, is joining Valeant’s board. Pershing Square owns 9% of Valeant, and Ackman is the second Pershing Square principal to join Valeant’s board.

FDA Approves Triggerfish Contact Lens for Glaucoma
The FDA allowed marketing of a one-time-use contact lens designed to identify the best time of day to measure a patient’s intraocular pressure (IOP). The Triggerfish, manufactured by Sensimed AG of Lausanne, Switzerland, has a sensor embedded in a soft silicone contact lens that detects changes in IOP. Worn for a maximum of 24 hours, the device transmits data wirelessly from the sensor to an adhesive antenna worn around the eye.

Spark Acquires Gene Therapy Collaborator Genable
Spark Therapeutics acquired Dublin-based Genable Technologies, a private gene therapy developer. The acquisition gives Spark ownership of RhoNova, a potential treatment targeting rhodopsin-linked autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. RhoNova has been granted Orphan Drug Designation in both the US and Europe in addition to the Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product designation from the European Medicines Agency. Spark and Genable have collaborated on RhoNova since 2014. Spark recently reported positive top-line results from a pivotal Phase III clinical trial of its lead candidate, SPK-RPE65, for treatment of subtypes of Leber’s congenital amaurosis and retinitis pigmentosa.

Retina Implant AG Gets Private Funding
Retina Implant AG, the German developer of subretinal implants for patients blinded by retinitis pigmentosa, completed a €26 million (US $29 million) round of private equity funding. One of the investors is Max Reindl, former founder and CEO of Wavelight Laser Technologies, now part of Alcon. Retina Implant says the funds will be used to recruit new clinical facilities worldwide as well as advance the reimbursement scheme for the Alpha IMS subretinal implant.