Coave raises $25M ahead of pivotal retinal gene therapy trial

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Coave put further development of lead candidate CTx-PDE6b at the top of its list of spending priorities. (Getty Images)

Coave Therapeutics has added €21.2 ($25.0 million) million to its series B round, setting the French biotech up to move a gene therapy against PDE6b inherited retinal dystrophies toward pivotal trials.

In November 2017, Paris-based Coave, formerly known as Horama, took a therapy designed to deliver a nonmutated copy of the PDE6B gene to retinitis pigmentosa patients into a phase 1/2 clinical trial. The following year, led by Christine Placet, who took Trophos to its $470 million acquisition by Roche, Coave raised a series B round to support further development of the lead candidate.

Now, Coave, led by new CEO Rodolphe Clerval, has disclosed a €21.2 million expansion of the series B. Coave said the expansion brings the total raised up to €33.1 million, although in 2018 it put the value of the initial close of the series B round at €22.5 million.

Seroba Life Sciences led the series B expansion with assists from new investors Théa Open Innovation and eureKARE as well as existing backers including Fund+ and Omnes Capital. In a statement, Bruno Montanari, partner at Seroba, said the investment reflected a belief Coave’s platform for “targeted delivery and enhanced gene transduction” will support an in-house pipeline and partnerships. 

Coave put further development of lead candidate CTx-PDE6b, formerly HORA-PDE6B, at the top of its list of spending priorities for the series B funds. A 15-subject trial of subretinal injections of the gene therapy is set to reach its primary completion in September 2022, according to ClinicalTrials.gov, and Coave is now looking ahead to pivotal studies. 

Other groups are pursuing the same opportunity from different angles. Last year, Ocugen received orphan drug designation for a candidate designed to treat PDE6b gene mutation-associated retinal diseases by providing a functional copy of nuclear hormone receptor gene NR2E3.

Coave plans to advance CTx-PDE6b while developing a platform intended to enhance the delivery of AAV vectors and while advancing preclinical programs in rare CNS and ocular diseases. The preclinical pipeline features treatments for Parkinson's disease, Gaucher disease and Stargardt's disease.