Rejuveron increases to near-majority stake in endogenous regenerative medicine pioneer Endogena to progress treatments for degenerative diseases of the eye.
Rejuveron Life Sciences AG, a Zürich-based biotechnology company developing technologies for healthy aging, today announced that it has strengthened its support to a near-majority holding in Endogena Therapeutics Inc, an endogenous regenerative therapeutics company. Rejuveron has funded a further $20m in the $29 million series A financing round to enable Endogena to progress treatments targeting degenerative diseases of the eye.
Longevity.Technology: Deterioration in sight is reluctantly accepted as a consequence of aging, but it has enormous impact on the ability to live independently and the quality of life, as well as increasing accident risk – for this reason, sight is often the sense that people fear losing the most. 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.
In January, Rejuveron already provided $4.75 million as part of Endogena’s $8m series A-1 financing round and is the largest shareholder in Endogena, alongside major investor DEFTA Partners. The new funding will enable Endogena to progress its lead programme, EA-2353, a photoreceptor regeneration treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) through first-in-human trials in the USA and to advance EA-2351, a treatment for geographic atrophy (GA) to IND.
Subject to US FDA approval of its IND application, Endogena’s lead program, EA-2353, will enter first-in-human trials in the first half of 2022. In May, the FDA granted orphan drug designation for EA-2353 which provides benefits including market exclusivity once approved, exemption of FDA application fees, and tax credits for qualified clinical trials.
EA-2353 is an endogenous photoreceptor regeneration treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) that works by selective regulation of the endogenous adult stem and progenitor cells for controlled tissue repair.
RP is a group of inherited diseases causing slow and progressive retinal degeneration and loss of vision, for which there is currently no cure for the majority of patients. It is the leading cause of inherited blindness, with an estimated 1.5 million people worldwide presently affected. Endogena’s novel, small-molecule approach is gene-independent, which has significant advantages in this condition that has multiple genetic causes. It leverages an artificial intelligence-driven drug discovery platform and has the potential to become a paradigm shift in treating degenerative conditions related to aging and genetic disorders.
EA-2351 is a novel pre-clinical candidate for the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA), an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). GA is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the developed world and it has been estimated that almost 9% of the population older than 45 years of age is affected. Dry-AMD is characterised by extensive retinal pigment epithelium degeneration. There is a high unmet medical need in AMD patients as there are no approved treatments for the condition.
Christian Angermayer, Chairman of Rejuveron Life Sciences AG, said: “Endogena Therapeutics’ approach for endogenous regenerative medicine is a novel treatment paradigm for common degenerative diseases that are becoming more prevalent due to demographic changes with aging populations. Rejuveron is focused on advancing treatments that focus on the biology of ageing and Endogena has transformative potential for age-related degenerative diseases. Regenerative therapies will have a more prominent role in expanding the healthspan of our aging population, which is facing the increasing burden of social, economic and healthcare challenges of age-related demographic shifts.”
Matthias Steger, CEO of Endogena, said: “We are on the brink of a critical milestone in our development as we progress our first program into the clinic. This would not be possible without the substantial support of Rejuveron and DEFTA. Our small molecule drug discovery expertise, AI-driven platform combined with our state-of-the-art stem cell know-how will enable us to advance breakthrough therapies in several indications.”
Elona Baum, Managing Director of DEFTA Partners, said: “DEFTA Partners is a strong supporter of funding innovation in age related diseases and is pleased to be working with Rejuveron to support Endogena’s innovative pipeline.”