Pharma & drug development

Q&A: an eye on innovation with SparingVision

Paris-based biotech company SparingVision is developing a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, which can lead to complete blindness. We sit down with Florence Allouche Ghrenassia, president and CEO of SparingVision, to discuss the future of specialist eye interventions.

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a genetic disorder of the eyes, is one of the leading causes of blindness. Thought to affect around one in 4,000 people (or two million worldwide), it typically begins with a loss of night vision and a narrowing of the visual field. Over time, the patient’s vision deteriorates, sometimes reaching the point of total blindness.At present, there is no cure for the disease. More properly described as a group of diseases rather than a single condition, RP is associated with mutations in over 60 genes. The ideal treatment, then, would be a gene-independent therapy that could treat all forms of RP.

For French biotech company SparingVision, this goal could be in sight. The company, which focuses on innovative therapeutic approaches for inherited retinal diseases, is developing a drug candidate (SPVN06) that could treat RP irrespective of genetic pathology.

Following its latest funding award – €2.5m from the EU’s EIC accelerator programme – SparingVision is now working to advance the treatment into clinical trials. Florence Allouche Ghrenassia, president and CEO, tells us more.

Abi Millar: SparingVision is developing a new drug for retinitis pigmentosa. Can you tell me a bit about this condition? How great is the need for new therapies?
Florence Allouche Ghrenassia: Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a rare, inherited retinal disorder characterised by diffuse progressive dysfunction of photoreceptors (primarily rod photoreceptors). It subsequently leads to degeneration of cone photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium. This degenerative disease causes blindness in young people and adults.Many believe that corrective ophthalmology gene therapy is the future for rare genetic disease. But, since the corrective gene therapy only treats one out of 65 mutations in this condition, it means the group of patients that can be targeted is very small.

Read the rest of this article in the October 2019 edition of Pharma Technology Focus

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