Norwich, June 15 2020 – Ikarovec, which is developing novel gene therapies to treat major ophthalmic indications, has been awarded £458,740 by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to accelerate development of its wet-form age- related macular degeneration (wAMD) product. The grant, made under the UKI2S Innovate Accelerator Programme, is being matched by investment made into the company by LifeArc, Parkwalk and UKI2S in its recent seed round. This new funding for Ikarovec’s early stage wAMD product provides additional resource with which to accelerate its development, while the seed funds are being used primarily to advance the company’s lead programme in diabetic macular edema.
The wAMD product is a novel bicistronic gene therapy that will both reduce blood vessel leakage and address detrimental changes to the retina as the disease progresses. It is expected to provide long-term effectiveness via a single injection and reduced risk of scarring compared with current treatment regimens. This would mean clinical benefit without the drawback of monthly antibody injections.
The aim of the Innovate UK project, ‘The development of a novel gene therapy to treat age-related macular degeneration’, is to show effectiveness in preclinical models, enabling further work in preparation for a clinical trial. Work will also be carried out on optimising the manufacturing process.
Ikarovec launched earlier this year with £2.5m of seed funding from UKI2S with co- investment from LifeArc and Parkwalk. The company was founded in 2019 by Chief Scientific Officer Dr Peter Widdowson, around intellectual property spun out of Quethera, which he founded and was bought by Astellas in 2018.
Robert Haigh, Executive Chairman of Ikarovec, said, ‘Bringing validation of our novel gene therapy and the opportunity to accelerate development of our pipeline, we are delighted to receive this grant from Innovate UK. Ikarovec believes its approach has great potential in the treatment of the debilitating disease of wet AMD, with significant advantages over existing therapies and those in development.’