Beacon attracts $170M series B to push eye disease gene therapy through late-stage trial

Beacon Therapeutics has raised a $170 million series B, which the U.K.-based gene therapy biotech will use to push its eye disease candidates through clinical trials.

London-based Beacon (which also has a base in Massachusetts) launched with $120 million back in 2023 and came with a mission to develop a new generation of gene therapies for retinal diseases that cause blindness. The latest funding round takes the total amount the biotech has so far drawn into a meaty $290 million.

European life-sciences-focused growth fund Forbion led the round, while London-based VC firm Syncona and Oxford Science Enterprises both returned. There were also initial investments from TCGX and Advent Life Sciences.

Beacon said it would use the latest funds to continue to develop its lead asset AGTC-501, which is currently in a phase 2/3 clinical trial for the treatment of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP). The asset was acquired by Syncona as part of its buyout of Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation in 2022.

The first patient was dosed in the XLRP study last month. The plan is to combine the results with data from a phase 1/2 trial and a phase 2 study in the same indication to support applications for approval in the U.S. and Europe.

“Unlike other approaches in the space, AGTC-501 expresses the full-length RPGR protein, thereby addressing all photoreceptor damage caused by XLRP, including both rod and cone loss,” Beacon explained in the July 3 release.

The U.K. biotech also said it would use part of the $170 million haul to generate a phase 1/2 trial for its dry age-related macular degeneration program.

As part of the financing, Beacon added to its board in the form of Forbion general partners Dmitrij Hristodorov, Ph.D., and Wouter Joustra alongside TCGX Managing Partner Cariad Chester.

“We are focused on progressing our pipeline of ophthalmic gene therapies to save and restore the vision of patients with a range of prevalent and rare retinal diseases that result in blindness,” Beacon CEO David Fellows said in the release.

“I am confident that along with the addition of Dmitrij Hristodorov, Wouter Joustra and Cariad Chester to the Beacon Board, these funds will support the ongoing development of our late-stage and preclinical pipeline and enable acceleration of the development of AGTC-501 as we progress through the clinic and toward commercialization,” Fellows added.

Elisa Petris, lead partner at Syncona and board director of Beacon, said the investment firm’s “continued backing of Beacon Therapeutics is a testament to the company’s proven leadership team and innovative approach to developing gene therapies for retinal diseases.”

“This financing and the partnership of this high-quality syndicate will propel Beacon’s pipeline and enable the company to advance its programs for both rare and prevalent ophthalmic diseases,” Petris added.