Wize Pharma Licenses Ophthalmic Non-viral Gene Therapy Technology

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HOD HASHARON, Israel—Wize Pharma a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of ophthalmic disorders, has entered into an exclusive license agreement with U.S.-based Copernicus Therapeutics. The agreement grants Wize exclusive rights to license, develop and commercialize products based on a non-viral gene therapy technology developed by Copernicus for the treatment of choroideremia (CHM). "We are very pleased and excited to enter into this agreement with Copernicus. Their proprietary and innovative technology addresses what we believe to be the greatest challenges in gene therapy, including overcoming the potential immune system response to treatment, thereby allowing repeated treatments if necessary. As an ophthalmology focused company, Wize is eager to develop and commercialize this cutting-edge gene therapy to transform the treatment of eye related diseases," said Mark Sieczkarek, chairman of the board of directors of Wize.

Dr. Robert Moen, president and CEO of Copernicus, commented, "Copernicus's gene therapy approach uniquely offers efficacy for ocular therapeutics without toxicity. We believe our disruptive technology is a paradigm shift in the field of gene therapy because it is a non-viral option, as compared to the viral-based systems that have dominated the field to date. We are very excited to advance our ophthalmic indications into the clinic with Wize Pharma."

CHM is a rare, degenerative, inherited retinal disorder which leads to blindness and currently has no FDA-approved treatments. It primarily affects males and is caused by loss of function in the CHM gene, which encodes the Rab escort protein-1 (REP-1). The REP-1 protein plays a role in intracellular protein trafficking. Loss of function of the CHM gene leads to abnormal intracellular protein trafficking and impaired elimination of waste products from the retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptors. Initially, patients with CHM experience poor night vision, and over time progressive visual loss ultimately leads to complete blindness.

WP-REP1, Wize's gene therapy product to be based on the licensed technology from Copernicus, will be comprised of a DNA compacted nanoparticle (NP), administered by intraocular injection, which is designed to provide a functioning CHM gene to photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.