Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a part of Johnson & Johnson, has acquired rights to investigational eye-disorder gene therapy called HMR59 from Hemera Biosciences for an undisclosed sum.
HMR59 is being developed to administer as a one-time, outpatient and intravitreal injection to protect vision in patients with geographic atrophy, a late-stage and severe form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Geographic atrophy, which affects around five million across the globe, is a leading reason for blindness in people over 50 years of age.
Low levels of CD59, a protein that preserves the retina from damage resulted due to an essential part of the body’s natural immune response called complement, have been observed in patients with AMD.
HMR59 has been designed to enhance the potential of retina cells to make a soluble form of CD59, thereby helping to further avoid damage to the retina and protect vision.
Hemera has completed the phase 1 study of HMR59 in patients with geographic atrophy. A second Phase 1 study is currently evaluating long-term safety of HMR59 in patients with wet-AMD.
Janssen Research & Development cardiovascular and metabolism global therapeutic area head Dr James List said: “Geographic atrophy is a devastating form of AMD that impacts the ability to accomplish everyday tasks, such as reading, driving, cooking, or even seeing faces.
“Our aim with this novel, single-administration gene therapy is to use our development expertise and deep heritage in vision care to help improve patient outcomes by intervening early, halting the progression to blindness, and preserving more years of sight.”
In August this year, GeneCentric Therapeutics announced a research collaboration with Janssen Research & Development on RNA-based drug response biomarkers for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).