Janssen scoops up rights to Hemera’s gene therapy for retinal geographic atrophy

pharmafile | December 3, 2020 | News story | Sales and Marketing Hemera Biosciences, Janssen, Retina, geographic atrophy 

Janssen is set to acquire the rights to Hemera Biosciences’ intravitreal gene therapy injection HMR59, the company has announced, to prevent degradation of vision in patients with geographic atrophy.

Geographic atrophy can occur in severe cases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), where there is often a deficiency of the CD59 protein which can lead to the destruction of macula cells in the eye, and impacting central vision and detail perception that eventually progresses to blindness. A severe and late-stage form of AMD, it is estimated that five million patients around the world suffer from geographic atrophy.

There are currently no approved treatments available for the condition. Hemera’s therapy HMR59 helps to prevent this damage by enabling retina cells to produce a soluble form of the CD59 protein. Financial details of the deal were not revealed in the announcement.

“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,” commented Dr James F List, Global Therapeutic Area Head, Cardiovascular & Metabolism at Janssen. “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.”

The therapy has successfully passed through a Phase 1 trial in this indication, with a second Phase 1 study planned in patients with wet-AMD.  

Matt Fellows

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