London, 26 January 2015 – NightstaRx Ltd ("Nightstar"), a private biopharmaceutical company specialised in bringing sight improving treatments to patients with retinal dystrophies, announces an increase in its funding to £17 million. The additional financing will be used to expedite the Company's clinical Choroideremia programme and has come from the Company's lead investor, Syncona LLP ("Syncona"), with support from Oxford Spin-out Equity Management ("OSEM").
Nightstar's lead programme is a retinal gene therapy for Choroideremia, a rare inherited cause of blindness that affects around 1 in 50,000 people. Nightstar aims to be a leading biopharmaceutical company founded on the successful development and commercialisation of gene therapy products that have the potential to deliver one-time cures to patients with inherited retinal dystrophies.
Nightstar also announces the appointment of David Fellows as Chief Executive Officer. David's career has spanned over 30 years in varying facets of the ophthalmology industry and his experience will be invaluable as the Company grows its regulatory and commercial strength.
David Fellows brings a wealth of ophthalmology experience to Nightstar. He was previously Vice President of Johnson & Johnson's Vision Care Franchise where he led the global marketing, new product, and licensing activities across the business. Prior to that he was employed for 25 years at Allergan, Inc., where he served primarily in the sales and marketing areas in a number of capacities, including regional president, corporate vice president and senior vice president in locations in North America, Europe and Asia. David is a graduate of Butler University; Indianapolis and is a Board Member of the Glaucoma Foundation.
Dr Chris Hollowood, Chairman of Nightstar and a partner of Syncona, commented:
"We are delighted to announce the increased funding from Syncona and to welcome David Fellows as Chief Executive Officer. Over the past twelve months, we have laid the foundations of a successful retinal gene therapy company and believe that the additional financing, coupled with David's proven leadership in ophthalmology, will be invaluable as we grow our pipeline and expedite our Choroideremia programme on both sides of the Atlantic. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Melanie Lee for her invaluable contribution in establishing these foundations and am pleased that we will continue to benefit from her expertise as a Board Director."
David Fellows, Chief Executive Officer of Nightstar, said:
"I am very excited to be joining Nightstar as Chief Executive. The Company is committed to utilising its expertise in gene therapy to manufacture, develop, register and commercialise therapies to treat sight threatening retinal diseases and the data we have seen to date from our gene therapy treatment for Choroideremia has been exceptional. We have a very talented team and I look forward to working with them as we grow our clinical portfolio through research, licenses and acquisition of other retinal dystrophy products."
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Notes for Editors:
About NightstaRx Ltd
Nightstar is a private biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of therapies for retinal dystrophies. The Company's lead programme is a retinal gene therapy for Choroideremia, a rare inherited cause of blindness that affects around 1 in 50,000 people. Gene therapy treatment has the potential to deliver a one-time cure for Choroideremia and a range of other retinal dystrophies. www.nightstarx.com
About Syncona Partners LLP
Syncona was founded in 2012 and operates as an evergreen investment company, taking an active role in identifying, developing and funding technologies with the potential to significantly impact the healthcare market of the future. Syncona can take the long view when necessary, able to concentrate investment into opportunities as technology is validated. Syncona is a subsidiary the Wellcome Trust who invested the initial £200m capitalisation. www.synconapartners.com
Choroideremia is an inherited disorder that leads to progressive loss of vision due to degeneration of the choroid and retina which is caused by a lack of Rab Escort Protein-1 (REP-1) and occurs almost exclusively in males. The first symptoms occur in childhood, with night blindness being the most common first symptom. As the disease progresses, there is loss of peripheral vision or 'tunnel vision', and later a loss of central vision. Progression of the disease continues throughout the individual's life, although both the rate and the degree of visual loss can vary, even within the same family. There is currently no treatment or cure for this disease.
For patients interested in participating in choroideremia trials please follow this link:http://www.eye.ox.ac.uk/research/clinical-ophthalmology-research-group/clinical-trials/choroideremia-gene-therapy