Further investment

RNS Number : 8355M
Oxford Biomedica PLC
05 February 2009


For Immediate Release



OxfordUK -     5 FebruaryOxford BioMedica (LSE:OXB), a leading gene therapy company, announced today that a planned further investment of US$250,000 has been made in the company under the collaboration agreement with the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) through its translational research arm the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI). The investment, which originated from Paul Manning, a director of the NNRI, is supporting the continuing development of StarGen™. StarGen is Oxford BioMedica's novel gene therapy, which uses the LentiVector® technology to deliver a corrected version of a gene that is mutated in patients with Stargardt disease, the most common juvenile degenerative retinal disease.

Under the original collaboration agreement announced on 2 October 2006, the FFB and a consortium of investors are committed to invest up to US$3.9 million in the StarGen programme, by subscribing to new Ordinary Shares in Oxford BioMedica. The share subscriptions will be made in stages and priced at a 10% premium to the market price at the time of investment

"StarGen holds promise for being a highly effective treatment for people affected by recessive Stargardt disease, many forms of cone-rod dystrophy, and other retinal degenerative diseases caused by variations in the ABCA4 gene," said Stephen Rose, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. "These diseases cause substantial vision loss, often at an early age, and there are virtually no treatments available for them. StarGen holds promise for changing the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by these vision-robbing conditions and we would like to thank Paul and Diane Manning for their continued support."


StarGen has shown preclinical efficacy in the only available model of Stargardt disease. A single administration was effective for the duration of the six-month study. Further preclinical development is ongoing or beginning at multiple sites in the USA, including Columbia University, Yerkes Research Center at Emory University and Oregon Health and Science University.

With a crucial need for Stargardt disease treatments and the access to patients through national patient organisations, such as the FFB, StarGen could be commercialised effectively with a small specialist sales force. The disease also qualifies for orphan status, which provides financial, marketing, and drug-approval benefits. Depending on resources, Oxford BioMedica could commercialise the product on its own, but the Company is also evaluating opportunities with its US collaborators to partner or spin-out the StarGen programme with its other orphan ocular product opportunities.  

Following the investment announced today, the Company has allotted and issued 2,209,042 new Ordinary Shares at 7.95pence per share. The new shares rank pari passu in all respects with Oxford BioMedica's existing Ordinary SharesApplication will today be made to the UK Listing Authority and to the London Stock Exchange for the new shares to be admitted to the Official List. Admission is expected to become effective and dealings in the new shares are expected to commence on 10 February 2009

Commenting on the news, Oxford BioMedica's Chief Executive, John Dawson said: "We are delighted to have the continued support of the Foundation Fighting Blindness for the development of StarGen in Stargardt disease. Since there are no available treatments for this disease of juvenile onset, StarGen is addressing an important medical need. It also has potential to treat cone-rod dystrophy and certain types of the dry form of macular degeneration, where the same mutant gene plays a role. These indications would significantly expand the market opportunity for StarGen."


For further information, please contact:

Oxford BioMedica plc: 

John Dawson, Chief Executive Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1865 783 000

JPMorgan Cazenove Limited:

James Mitford/ Gina Gibson

Tel: +44 (0)20 7588 2828

City/Financial Enquiries:

Lisa BaderoonMark Court/ Mary-Jane Johnson Buchanan Communications

Tel: +44 (0)20 7466 5000

Scientific/Trade Press Enquiries:

Katja StoutHolly GriffithsJohn McIntyre

College Hill Life Sciences

Tel: +44 (0)20 7457 2020

US Enquiries:

Thomas Fechtner

The Trout Group LLC

Tel: (646) 378 2900

Notes to editors

1. Oxford BioMedica

Oxford BioMedica (LSE: OXB) is a biopharmaceutical company specialising in cancer immunotherapy and gene-based therapies. The Company was established in 1995, as a spin-out from Oxford University, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. The Company has a platform of gene delivery technologies, which are based on highly engineered viral systems, and a broad development pipeline. Oxford BioMedica’s lead product candidates are TroVax®, a therapeutic vaccine for multiple solid cancers, in Phase III development in collaboration with sanofi-aventis; and ProSavin®, a novel gene-based treatment for Parkinson’s disease, in Phase I/II development. The Company is underpinned by over 80 patent families, which represent one of the broadest patent estates in the field. Oxford BioMedica has collaborations with sanofi-aventis, Wyeth, Sigma-Aldrich, MolMed and Virxsys. Technology licensees include Biogen Idec, Merck & Co, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. Further information is available at www.oxfordbiomedica.co.uk


2. StarGen™

StarGen is a novel gene-based therapy for the treatment of Stargardt disease. The disease is caused by a mutation of the ABCR gene which leads to the degeneration of photoreceptors in the retina. StarGen uses the Company's LentiVector system to deliver a corrected version of the ABCR gene. A single administration of the product directly to the retina could provide long-term or potentially permanent correction.

3. Stargardt disease

Stargardt disease is the most common juvenile degenerative retinal disease with a US and EU population of approximately 50,000 cases and an incidence of 1/10,000 (600 new cases/year). Age of onset is typically 8-12 years with severely decreased visual acuities developing within nine years of onset. Presentation includes increased blind spots and reduced ability to adapt to dark after sunlight exposure. 

4. The Foundation Fighting Blindness

The Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc. (FFB) is the largest source of non-governmental funding for retinal degenerative disease research in the world. The urgent mission of FFB is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. The Foundation has funded thousands of research studies at hundreds of prominent institutions. The Foundation funds leading-edge research in promising areas such as genetics, gene therapy, retinal cell transplantation, artificial retinal implants, and pharmaceutical and nutritional therapies. Since its inception in 1971, the Foundation has raised over US$350 million. FFB is ranked as a "Top-Rated" charity by the American Institute of Philanthropy and was named one of Worth Magazine's "100 Best Charities." Further information is available at www.fightblindness.org

5. The National Neurovision Research Institute

The mission of the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI) is to accelerate the translation of laboratory based research into clinical trials for treatments and cures of retinal degenerative diseases. 
NNRI is a newly established non-profit entity, a support organization of the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB). The mission of the NNRI is to accelerate the translation of laboratory based research into clinical trials for treatments and cures of retinal degenerative diseases. It is a medical research institute that will obtain support from government agencies, corporations and private foundations. It may also receive royalties or licensing fees from the drug discovery processes and commercialization of new therapies. Further information is available at www.nnri.info/index.htm

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