Combination of Gyroscope Therapeutics with Orbit Biomedical creates leading retinal gene therapy platform
11 April 2019
· Merger brings together sub-retinal surgical platform with Gyroscope's clinical stage pipeline and gene therapy manufacturing platform
· Gyroscope will be the world's first end-to-end retinal gene therapy company with clinical, delivery and manufacturing capabilities
· Two key leadership appointments strengthen and broaden the leadership team: Khurem Farooq, formerly Senior Vice President in Immunology & Ophthalmology, Genentech, appointed CEO and Ian Clark, former Genentech CEO, appointed Non-Executive Director
· Syncona will own 82% of the enlarged company, which represents a holding value of £28.9 million (cost)
Syncona Ltd, a leading healthcare company focused on founding, building and funding global leaders in life science, today announces the merger of its companies, Gyroscope Therapeutics (Gyroscope), an ophthalmology company developing genetically defined therapies for retinal diseases and Orbit Biomedical (Orbit), a specialist medical device company focused on precision sub-retinal therapeutic delivery. Syncona will own 82% of the enlarged company (a holding value of £28.9 million), which will retain the Gyroscope name.
The merger creates the first fully integrated retinal gene therapy company with high quality manufacturing and a surgical platform that can support accurate, safe and consistent sub-retinal delivery of treatments to patients with blinding conditions.
Chris Hollowood, Chief Investment Officer of Syncona and Chair of Gyroscope, said: "Gyroscope is one of the first companies globally to move gene therapy out of rare diseases through the delivery of natural regulatory proteins. As retinal gene therapy progresses to more prevalent conditions, delivering a therapeutic in a way that ensures higher consistency of dosing, whilst allowing patients to receive a less invasive treatment, is key to widespread use and clinical effectiveness. The merger ensures Gyroscope now has the key platform capabilities it requires to develop and deliver its therapeutics commercially. This marks an important step in fulfilling founding academics, David Kavanagh and Andrew Lotery's vision of widespread use of genetically defined treatments for dry AMD."
As it enters its next phase of growth towards commercial development, the merged group will be led by newly appointed CEO, Khurem Farooq. Khurem most recently held the position of Senior Vice President of the Business Unit Immunology & Ophthalmology at Genentech, where, notably, he was responsible for managing the commercial success of Lucentis and the pre-launch activities for Lampalizumab. Soraya Bekkali, who has led Gyroscope into the clinic, will continue to lead the research and development organisation as President, Head of R&D, whilst Mike Keane and Susan Hill, who led the founding and launch of Orbit, will become Gyroscope's Chief Technology Officer and Chief Business Officer respectively.
Additionally, Ian Clark, who most recently served as Chief Executive of Genentech, has been appointed as a Non-Executive Director.
Gyroscope has provided further information in its press release which can be found here: http://gyroscopetx.com/press-releases/.
Siobhan Weaver / Annabel Clay
Tel : +44 (0) 20 3981 7940
Brett Pollard / Natalie Garland-Collins
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3727 1000
Copies of this press release and other corporate information can be found on the company website at: www.synconaltd.com
Syncona is a leading FTSE250 healthcare company focused on founding, building and funding global leaders in life science. Our vision is to deliver transformational treatments to patients in truly innovative areas of healthcare while generating superior returns for shareholders.
We seek to partner with the best, brightest and most ambitious minds in science to build globally competitive businesses.
We take a long-term view, underpinned by a deep pool of capital, and are established leaders in gene and cell therapy. We focus on delivering dramatic efficacy for patients in areas of high unmet need.
About Gyroscope Therapeutics
Gyroscope Therapeutics is a clinical-stage gene therapy company, developing cutting edge, genetically defined therapies for the treatment of eye diseases linked to an unbalanced complement system, a part of the immune system. The Company was founded to capitalise on a convergence of advancements made in the understanding of the complement system's impact on eye disease, the genetic basis of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and gene therapy as a mode of sustained drug delivery.
The Company's lead investigational medicine, GT005, currently being studied in the Phase I/II FOCUS trial in advanced dry AMD, is a novel retinal gene therapy aiming at delivering a targeted, single dose treatment for the progressive visual impairment caused by dry AMD in patients by locally modulating complement activity. Gyroscope is building a pipeline of medicines for blinding eye diseases linked to the complement system.
Gyroscope is a private company headquartered in London, UK and is supported by experts in complement biology, AMD and gene therapy. Investors include Syncona Ltd., Cambridge Enterprise and Cambridge Innovation Capital. Further information can be found at www.gyroscopetx.com
About Orbit Biomedical.
Orbit Biomedical is a specialist medical device company operating at the intersection of biomedical engineering, surgeon training and curative therapeutics. Based in Ambler, PA, our mission is to revolutionize gene and cell therapy treatment by setting a new standard for precise, targeted surgical delivery to the sub-retinal space.
Under a short surgical procedure, Orbit Biomedical's 510k approved microcannula accesses the subretinal space from the front of the eye by approaching it through the suprachoroidal tissue layer, without the need to remove the vitreous (the gel-like substance in the centre of the eye) or to pierce the retina itself. Our goal is to help make the administration of one-time therapies as safe and efficient as possible for patients.
Orbit Biomedical, founded in 2018 with Series A funding from Syncona, partners with gene and cell therapy companies developing one-time therapeutics for retinal diseases. For more information visit www.orbitbiomedical.com
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition which damages photoreceptors in the macula (central retina), leading to progressive loss of central vision. AMD affects over 35 million patients globally.
There are two types of AMD: wet AMD and dry AMD. Dry AMD is the most common form and gradually reduces central vision as retina atrophy expands, causing a growing blank patch in the centre of vision over time. People with advanced atrophic AMD, also called geographic atrophy, report increasing difficulties in reading, driving, recognizing faces, and activities in dim or low light, often with significant impact on daily living.
The atrophic form of AMD represents a significant unmet medical need, as there are currently no approved therapies for this devastating blinding condition.
 Syncona invested a further £5.0 million of the Series A financing into the merged company
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