CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Vedere Bio, Inc. (Vedere Bio), a stealth-stage company focused on advancing photoreceptor-protein-based optogenetic therapies that are delivered to the retina intravitreally to restore functional vision, announced today that it has been acquired by Novartis. Shareholders in Vedere Bio received $150 million upfront and will be eligible for up to $130 million in milestone payments, for a total of $280 million. Based on technology from the laboratories of Drs. Ehud Isacoff and John G. Flannery of UC Berkeley, and technology directed at enhanced ocular gene therapy delivery arising jointly between UC Berkeley and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Vedere Bio was formed in the Atlas Venture incubator in June 2019. The company was launched with a $21 million Series A financing and began lab operations at LabCentral in Cambridge, MA where it advanced its lead programs from concept to development candidate within one year. Immediately prior to the acquisition, certain earlier-stage vision restoration and vision preservation assets leveraging the company's ocular gene therapy toolbox were spun out into a newly formed entity – Vedere Bio II, Inc.
"The medical need for new therapies to treat blindness is unambiguous," said Jay Bradner, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. "Vedere Bio's innovative technologies expand the potential for gene therapy to improve the lives of patients facing vision loss due to photoreceptor death attributable to a number of prevalent eye diseases."
"Vedere Bio's photoreceptor-protein-based optogenetics program has important advantages over competing approaches and brings us one step closer to delivering functional vision to patients in need. Our proprietary intravitreal capsids enable not only Vedere Bio's optogenetics products but also other ocular gene therapies," said Cyrus Mozayeni, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, President of Vedere Bio and Atlas Venture Entrepreneur in Residence. "Our sale to Novartis is an important milestone in advancing Vedere Bio's most advanced programs to patients around the world. At the same time, I look forward to working with our experienced team to advance our highly innovative, earlier stage assets as part of the newly established Vedere Bio II."
"Through Vedere Bio's approach, we are able to see the impact of venture philanthropy in achieving real progress in the development of new therapies for patients with vision loss," said Ben Yerxa, Ph.D., CEO of Foundation Fighting Blindness. "For the millions of patients globally living with inherited retinal degenerations and other eye diseases caused by photoreceptor death, the advancement of novel optogenetics therapies provides hope for the future. In addition, we are eager to partner with Vedere Bio II to accelerate their novel ocular gene therapy programs."
The newly formed Vedere Bio II, Inc. will operate as a wholly independent entity from Novartis and Vedere Bio. Vedere Bio II aims to develop a pipeline of novel vision restoration and vision preservation medicines by targeting underserved indications. Backed by the full Vedere Bio investor syndicate of Atlas Venture, Mission BioCapital and Foundation Fighting Blindness (RD Fund), the Vedere Bio II team will launch with Vedere Bio's founders, team and facilities to advance its pipeline.
"The acquisition of Vedere Bio by Novartis speaks to the strength of the underlying science from our founders and to the incredible job the team has done in advancing these programs over the past year. We are very excited by the potential of this technology and the opportunity to deliver true restoration of sight for patients who have been living in darkness for so long," said Kevin Bitterman, Ph.D., Partner at Atlas Venture and Chairman of the Vedere Bio Board of Directors. "Since Vedere Bio was founded in 2019, the company has moved with unprecedented urgency over the course of one year to advance from concept to development candidate. We look forward to the advancement of the lead programs by Novartis and are eager to see the progress of the Vedere Bio II team in the future to develop novel ocular gene therapies for patients in need."
The transaction closed in September 2020.
About Vedere Bio II, Inc. Vedere Bio II, which will be referred to as Vedere going forward, is a privately held, emerging biopharmaceutical company leveraging an ocular gene therapy toolbox to develop a pipeline of vision restoration and vision preservation therapies. Comprised of a diverse team of pioneering scientists, Vedere Bio II is discovering and developing next generation ocular gene therapies to make vision restoration a reality in areas of high global unmet medical need. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA and is funded by Atlas Venture, Mission BioCapital and Foundation Fighting Blindness (RD Fund). For more information, please visit www.vederebio.com or follow Vedere Bio II on Twitter and LinkedIn.