Arix Bioscience Supports OptiKira, a Company Developing Drugs to Fight Blindness
LONDON AND CLEVELAND, OHIO, JUNE 13, 2016: Arix Bioscience Limited (Arix Bioscience), a global healthcare and life science company supporting medical innovation, announced today it has provided development capital to OptiKira, LLC (OptiKira), an early stage company developing drugs to help prevent blindness.
Extensive research by OptiKira’s founders has helped in defining the biological pathway leading to progressive cell death that characterises diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), diabetes and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
OptiKira was formed in 2015 by BioMotiv, LLC (BioMotiv), the for-profit collaborator of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the University of Washington.
Using technologies stemming from intellectual property licensed from UCSF and the University of Washington, OptiKira is developing small molecule therapeutics that prevent cell death in pathologies caused by misfolded or unfolded proteins. The Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) is the mechanism by which cells deal with functionally abnormal, misfolded proteins. When overloaded, the “terminal UPR” results in the accumulation of excessive unfolded proteins which leads to apoptosis – cell death.
RP is the first pathology that OptiKira will target with its novel class of drug, although several other diseases are caused by the failure of the UPR mechanism, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and diabetic retinopathy. RP is a genetic disorder, typically diagnosed in adolescents and young adults, and affects 1 in 3,000 to 1 in 4,000 individuals. In the US alone, 80,000-100,000 people have RP. Patients report gradual and progressive visual loss between age 10 and 40 because photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) die. Accumulation of misfolded proteins within cells is a central causative mechanism in many forms of RP. As yet, there have been no Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to treat the condition.
Arix Bioscience and BioMotiv have formed a strategic partnership that will enable wide-ranging support for innovative academia-sourced projects and discoveries, with Jonathan Peacock, the US-based chairman of Arix Bioscience, sitting on the BioMotiv Advisory Board. Jonathan Peacock, said: “We are delighted to support OptiKira through our partnership with BioMotiv, underlining our commitment to access breakthrough science to develop important new therapies for patients.”
Dr. Joe Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of Arix Bioscience, said: “OptiKira’s founding scientists have done a great job of creating breakthrough molecules with the potential to control the UPR mechanism. We will work with our partners at BioMotiv to help OptiKira advance drugs to the clinic with the goal of bringing a new treatment option for patients facing blindness". In addition to providing ongoing support to OptiKira, Arix Bioscience will have a seat on the board of the company, through which it can help shape its development. Ted Torphy, Chairman of OptiKira and Chief Scientific Officer of BioMotiv, commented: “We are delighted to have Arix as a partner in OptiKira and look forward to tapping their experience and networks to support the acceleration of OptiKira’s programs.”
OptiKira has also received support from two National Institutes of Health Small Business Technology Transfer grants as well as support from the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, which is supported in part by a grant from the Ohio Third Frontier.
About Arix Bioscience Limited and Group
Arix Bioscience Limited (formerly Perceptive Bioscience) is a global healthcare and life science company. Headquartered in London and with an office in New York, Arix Bioscience sources and develops businesses addressing medical innovation at all stages of development and is supported with access to breakthrough academic science. US projects are managed from the group’s New York office. Further information: www.arixbioscience.com
BioMotiv is the mission-driven research accelerator associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a $250 million initiative for advancing medicine centered at University Hospitals in Cleveland. The focus is to accelerate breakthrough discoveries from research institutions into therapeutics for patients through an innovative model that efficiently aligns capital and collaborations. The company leverages an experienced team and advisory board to select, fund, and actively manage and advance a portfolio of programs. Further information: www.biomotiv.com
OptiKira is a start-up company developing novel therapeutics to prevent cell death. Founded in 2015, the company’s technology is based on discoveries developed and exclusively licensed from the University of California, San Francisco. Extensive research by the founders has helped define the biological pathway leading to progressive cell death which characterizes diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Further information: www.optikira.com