Age-related macular degeneration biotech raises $148m

Clinical-stage gene therapy company announces $148  million raised in Series C financing for age-related macular degeneration.

London-based Gyroscope Therapeutics Limited, which focuses on treating diseases of the eyeannounced today it has raised $148.0 million (£107.8 million) in a Series C financing led by Forbion’s Growth Opportunities Fund [1]. It expects to consider additional capital raising options this year, which could include an initial public offering in the United States [2]. The timing and the terms of any such additional capital raising have not yet been determined and are subject to market conditions and other factors.

Longevity.Technology: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic disease of the eye for which a key risk factor is, obviously, age. However, the retina is part of a large, interconnected network, and research in this area can have beneficial repercussions for other research promoting genomic, proteomic, and endocrine homeostasis and leading to the treatment the adverse effects of chronic, age-related disease in humans.

Longevity-related companies researching in this area include Alkahest, Unity, Exonate and Drusolve. In addition, Life Biosciences co-founder David Sinclair showed that neurons in the eye can be reset to a youthful state with a gene therapy that induced expression of three of the Yamanaka factor proteins. Gyroscope is hoping that by triggering an increased production of complement factor I (CFI) with a single dose of GT005, production of the serine protease will be increased, countering a driver of AMD.

The financing includes Sofinnova Investments, funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Tetragon Financial Group Limited, an undisclosed healthcare focused fund, Fosun Pharma, Cambridge Innovation Capital and founding investor Syncona. The company also announced the appointments of Wouter Joustra, General Partner, Forbion and Maha Katabi, General Partner, Sofinnova to the Gyroscope Board of Directors.

What are Gyroscope’s plans for the funding?

Gyroscope plans to use proceeds from the financing to advance the clinical development of GT005, the company’s lead investigational gene therapy being evaluated for the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). GT005 has received Fast Track designation from the FDA and is being evaluated in Phase II clinical trials in two different genetically defined patient populations with GA.

These funds will also enable Gyroscope to further advance its early stage pipeline and innovative delivery technology, including its proprietary Orbit subretinal delivery system, which is designed for precise delivery to the back of the eye. This subretinal delivery system is currently being used by Lineage Cell Therapeutics for its therapy for dry age-related macular degeneration.

“We are excited to welcome a new group of leading life sciences investors on our journey to deliver gene therapy beyond rare disease. Their investment in Gyroscope will allow us to continue building our portfolio of investigational gene therapies,” said Khurem Farooq, Chief Executive Officer, Gyroscope. “We recently announced encouraging Phase I/II clinical trial data with our lead investigational gene therapy, GT005, that give us confidence in its potential as a treatment for geographic atrophy and are continuing to advance our Phase II clinical programme [1].”

Khurem Farooq
Khurem Farooq, Chief Executive Officer, Gyroscope

Looking to the future for age-related macular degeneration

“Just five short years ago, we created Gyroscope to develop gene therapies for some of the leading causes of blindness. Our continued investment is a reflection of the great progress this world-class team has made towards delivering on that promise,” said Chris Hollowood, Chief Investment Officer of Syncona and Chairman of Gyroscope.

“We look forward to partnering with Gyroscope’s new investors who share our excitement about the potential of the people and science to make meaningful impact in patients’ lives, and to welcoming Wouter and Maha to the Board. With the expansion of the Board it is the right time for Dominic (Schmidt) to step down from his position as Director. We thank Dominic for his key role in the launch and growth of Gyroscope and his support of the Company [1].”

“Forbion has a reputation for pioneering investment in vector-based therapies, with seed investments in AAV- and lentiviral-based companies. Gyroscope’s pipeline of investigational gene therapies is exactly the type of potentially transformative technology we look to invest in,” said Wouter Joustra, General Partner at Forbion. “With science grounded in genetics, we believe Gyroscope is well positioned to develop novel treatments for the millions of people with serious eye diseases who currently have limited or no treatment options [1].”

What can be done for age related macular degeneration?

While there is currently no cure, treatment for age-related macular degeneration can slow progression to extend vision for as long as possible. Treatment options include anti-angiogenic drugs injected into the eye, laser therapy and photodynamic laser therapy.

Image credits: Bacila Vlad / Unsplash and Gyroscope