Ophthotech becomes Iveric in pivot to gene therapies

Ophthotech is changing its name to Iveric bio as part of its transition into a gene therapy biotech. The rebranding follows a period in which Ophthotech responded to a phase 3 setback by striking deals for retinal disease gene therapies.

New York-based Ophthotech was laid low in late 2016 by the failure of two phase 3 clinical trials of anti-platelet derived growth factor Fovista in wet age-related macular degeneration. That led Ophthotech to weigh strategic alternatives before deciding to apply its ophthalmic drug development expertise to the advancement of a portfolio of in-licensed gene therapies. 

“We believe that gene therapy is the ideal solution to treat patients with orphan inherited retinal diseases for which there are no treatment options available,” Iveric CMO Kourous Rezaei said in a statement.

With the strategic shift toward gene therapies now well underway, Ophthotech has decided to rebrand as Iveric. The biotech is due to start trading on Nasdaq under a new stock ticker—"ISEE"—Wednesday and has already moved to a new website that carries the Iveric brand.

The rebranding could help distance the biotech from its past—which is defined by the dramatic share price drop that followed its phase 3 blowup—and encourage investors and potential partners to focus on the perceived promise of its current crop of gene therapies. 

Iveric’s gene therapy pipeline is led by two preclinical assets, IC-100 and IC-200, that are designed to treat rhodopsin-mediated autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa and Best disease. The biotech secured rights to the programs through deals with the University of Florida Research Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania and plans to enter the clinic in 2020 and 2021. 

While Iveric sees gene therapies as its future, its clinical pipeline remains centered on a conventional therapeutic, complement biology drug Zimura. Iveric is due to deliver data from a phase 2b trial late this year, beyond which it may partner up for further development.