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January, 29 2021 • Articles
Renowned Pioneers in Ophthalmology Join SparingVision’s Scientific Advisory Board
Development of lead asset SPVN06 to further benefit from high-level Clinical Advisory Board
Paris, January 29, 2021 – SparingVision (the “Company”), a genomic medicine company developing vision saving treatments for ocular diseases, today announces the strengthening of its Scientific Advisory Board (“SAB”) with the appointment of internationally renowned ophthalmology pioneers Dr. Paul A. Sieving, Professor of University of California Davis School of Medicine and the former Director of the US National Eye Institute, and Prof. Botond Roska, co-director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel and Professor at the Medical and Science Faculty of the University of Basel.
Prof. José Alain Sahel, co-founder of SparingVision, said, “To have international scientists of this calibre joining our SAB is further validation of the potential of the Company’s science, based on decades of work at the Paris Vision Institute. We will benefit tremendously from the knowledge, advice and insights of these ophthalmology leaders, which will aid us in our mission to bring next generation genomic medicines to patients with blinding ocular diseases as quickly as possible.”
Stéphane Boissel, President and Chief Executive Officer of SparingVision, added, “The addition of these renowned scientists to our SAB is perfectly timed as we prepare to commence our first in human study of SPVN06 for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa later this year. Moreover, as we look to build a coherent portfolio of genomic medicines in the field of ophthalmology, their advice will be invaluable.”
Dr. Paul A. Sieving is an ophthalmologist with extensive expertise in inherited retinal diseases (“IRD”). He served as Director of the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health for nearly 20 years where he led the research programs to advance national vision health. Dr. Sieving previously was the Paul R. Lichter Professor of Ophthalmic Genetics at the University of Michigan Medical School for 17 years and founded the Centre for Retinal and Macular Degeneration. Dr. Sieving received his M.D. from the University of Illinois where he trained in ophthalmology and obtained a Ph.D. in bioengineering. He has developed and led translational therapy programs for IRD conditions using human ocular gene therapy and neurotrophic factor implants. Dr. Sieving has received prestigious awards including the Società Oftalmologica Italiana Honorary Award in Ophthalmology in 2016. He holds elected membership in the National Academy of Medicine USA and also in the German National Academy of Science. Since leaving the NIH in 2019, he founded the new Centre for Ocular Regenerative Therapy at the University of California, Davis.
Prof. Botond Roska is co-founder of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (“IOB”), which is dedicated to advancing the understanding of vision, its diseases and to developing new therapies for vision loss. Prof. Roska received his PhD in Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. He then studied genetics and virology as a Harvard Society Fellow at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. He has been a professor at the Medical Faculty of the University of Basel since 2014 and professor at the Faculty of Science since 2019. Prof. Roska has received numerous awards for his outstanding accomplishments in vision science research, including the 2020 Körber European Science Prize, awarded for his pioneering research over the last 20 years exploring mechanisms of vision, how different cells in the visual system extract information from the environment and the complex interplay of information involved in signal processing. His research is currently focused on gene therapies that restore light sensitivity to retinal cells to renew functionality in blind retinas.
Dr. Sieving and Prof. Roska join existing SAB members, led by SparingVision’s co-founder Prof. José Alain Sahel, a key figure in the field of vision restoration and eye regenerative therapies; Prof. Jean Bennett, Co-Director of Centre for Advanced Retinal & Ocular Therapeutics at University of Pennsylvania and the driving force leading to the approval of Luxturna®; Dr. Elias Arnér, Head of the Biochemistry Division in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and Prof. Pierre Chambon, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Advanced Studies Strasbourg University Founder & former Director of the Institute for Genetics, Cellular and Molecular Biology, France.
With great sadness SparingVision acknowledges the passing of Dr. Arne Holmgren, who was a member of the SAB since the onset. Dr. Holmgren was a Senior Professor at the Karolinska Institutet and widely known as one of the ground-breaking scientists establishing the rapidly growing field of redox biology. The Company is truly grateful for his advice over the years and offers its deepest condolences to his family.
SparingVision’s SAB will counsel the Company on the scientific development of its research program as well as the strategic expansion of its portfolio. The clinical development of SPVN06, a proprietary, mutationagnostic, AAV gene therapy and the Company’s lead asset, will further benefit from the support of SparingVision’s Clinical Advisory Board (“CAB”) comprised of the following seven leaders in the field of gene therapy and ophthalmology:
- Prof. Jean Bennet, Co-Director of Centre for Advanced Retinal & Ocular Therapeutics at University of Pennsylvania;
- Prof. Jacque Duncan, Academic Director, Retina Service, Department of Ophthalmology, UCSF and Chair of Foundation Fighting Blindness’s Scientific Advisory Board;
- Prof. Eric Pierce, Director of the Ocular Genomics Institute and Professor at Harvard Medical School;
- Prof. Eyal Banin, Director of Centre for Retina at Hadassah Medical Centre and professor at the Hebrew University, in Jerusalem;
- Prof. Mark Pennesi Ophthalmic Genetics Associate Professor at Oregon Health & Science University;
- Prof. Bart Leroy, Head of Department of Ophthalmology, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania;
- Prof. Masayo Takahashi, stem cell trailblazer and a former project research leader at the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology in Japan and the current President of VisionCare.
SparingVision is a genomic medicines company, translating pioneering science into vision saving treatments. Founded to advance over 20 years of world-leading ophthalmic research from its scientific founders at the Paris Vision Institute, SparingVision is leading a step shift in how ocular diseases are treated, moving beyond single gene correction therapies. At the heart of this is SPVN06, a gene independent treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), the most common inherited retinal disease affecting two million people worldwide. SPVN06 could form the basis of a suite of new sight saving treatments as it could be applicable to many other retinal diseases, regardless of genetic cause.
The Company is supported by a strong, internationally renowned team who aim to harness the potential of genomic medicine to deliver new treatments to all ocular disease patients as quickly as possible. SparingVision has raised €60 million to date and its investors include 4BIO Capital, Bpifrance, Foundation Fighting Blindness (US), Fondation Voir & Entendre, UPMC Enterprises, Jeito Capital and Ysios Capital. For more information, please visit www.sparingvision.com.
SPVN06 is a proprietary, mutation-agnostic, AAV gene therapy approach comprised of one neurotrophic factor and one enzyme reducing oxidative stress which, acting synergistically, aim at slowing or stopping the degeneration of photoreceptors, which inevitably leads to blindness in patients with rod-cone dystrophies (RCD). SparingVision’s primary disease target is Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), one of the most common inherited retinal diseases that affects two million patients worldwide. There is currently no treatment approved to treat RP patients independently of their genetic background. This approach is potentially applicable to many more diseases where the loss of rods is known to be an early signal of the disease. First-in-man trials, with SPVN06 in patients with RP, will be commencing in 2021.
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