Vedere Bio II, unable to replicate past work that led to Novartis acquisition, closes up shop

Opthamology-focused gene therapy biotech Vedere Bio II, the successor to a Novartis-bought biotech that was scooped up in 2020, is closing up shop after failing to impress in preclinical studies.

“Based on the results of those studies, we made the difficult decision to discontinue our efforts,” co-founder Cyrus Mozayeni, M.D., and Chairman Kevin Bitterman announced in a statement posted on the company’s website Friday. It’s unclear how many staffers are losing their jobs in the process. 

Vedere Bio II was born in May 2021, months after the company's first edition—Vedere Bio—was bought by Novartis for $150 million upfront in October 2020. Version 2.0 was made up of the same management team and employees, snagging $77 million in a series A round to forge ahead. The spinout’s leadership was later bolstered by Gabor Veres, Ph.D., BioMarin’s head of gene therapy research who focused on AAV platform discovery and jumped to Vedere II as chief scientific officer. 

The company's stated ambition, according to an earlier version of the website, was to restore vision in patients with inherited retinal degeneration or dry age-related macular degeneration with geographic atrophy. 

Vedere Bio II presented preclinical data on its AAV capsids at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy 2022 annual meeting, saying that they had "high retinal transduction." Veres said at the time that the data were a promising sign for Vedere’s science.

“Taken together, these advances not only enhance the probability of success for Vedere’s lead program, but also the ability to build a pipeline and scale the production of high-quality vector preps,” he said. 

An archived version of Vedere Bio II's website from January did not include a more specific pipeline of preclinical candidates. The company was still hiring at the time, with openings for two scientists and a senior research associate.