Regeneron, ViGeneron shake on gene therapy deal

April 7, 2022

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and ViGeneron are teaming up to create a new gene therapy that could be used to treat inherited retinal disease.

The two have signed a research collaboration deal to work on a gene therapy treatment based on engineered recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors (vgAAVs). ViGeneron, a German biotech, is using vgAAVs to overcome the limitations of AAV-based gene therapies. Currently, delivery of therapy to photoreceptors in the eye carries with it considerable risks of retinal detachment or other forms of collateral damage. The new technology could allow signals to be transmitted to the retinas while minimizing the risk of retinal detachment.

Per the terms of the agreement, Regeneron will have exclusive licensing rights for any vgAAV-based product that comes from the collaboration. In return, ViGeneron will receive an upfront payment and research funding. Down the line, Regeneron may shell out a big sum to ViGeneron in the form of milestone payments, exercise fees, and royalties. Neither company has said how much the future payments will be.

The collaboration between the duo will maximize the technological abilities and potential of the vgAAV program and future development activities, said Dr. Caroline Man Xu, co-founder and CEO of ViGeneron.

“Our aim is to overcome the current limitations of gene therapy and to bring a novel therapeutic approach to patients in need,” said Xu.

Inherited retinal diseases are a group of disorders characterized by photoreceptor degeneration or dysfunction. The disease typically results in progressive vision loss and is identified through individual genetic testing. Currently, more than 260 retinal disease genes have been identified.