Eyevensys links with Phillips-Medisize, Minnetronix to produce its gene therapy device for eye diseases

Eyevensys has set its sights on developing gene therapies to treat some of the most serious, vision-threatening eye diseases, as well as an electro-transfer platform to deliver those DNA-based solutions directly to the eye’s ciliary muscle.

As those gene therapies advance to the later stages of clinical trials, its drug delivery device is in need of a corresponding upgrade—and the Paris-based company is looking stateside to plot out that commercial expansion.

Eyevensys has formed separate multi-year strategic partnerships with Phillips-Medisize and Minnetronix Medical to develop the next version of its Electrotransfection System. These efforts have already begun, with Phillips-Medisize working on optimizing the design of the system’s ocular device component, which injects the DNA plasmid solution into the eye, while Minnetronix upgrades the electrical pulse generator powering the system.

The U.S.-based manufacturers are taking over from Cisteo Medical and Valotec, both of which are based in France and were tasked with rolling out the initial edition of the device.

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When combined, the system’s two components deliver the gene therapies to the entire eye. During a 15-second sequence, the pulse generator activates electroporation, temporarily opening up the cell membranes in the ciliary muscle to allow the DNA plasmids to enter the cells. Once inside the cells, the plasmids essentially turn the eye into a “biofactory,” training it to produce its own therapeutic proteins.

Those proteins can then be sent throughout the entire eye as needed—to the back of the eye and both sides of the retina, as well as to the front of the eye—to treat retinal diseases like wet and dry macular degeneration, glaucoma and more.

With the help of Phillips-Medisize and Minnetronix, Eyevensys is aiming to build a new version of the system that is not only easier to use but can also be widely commercialized, as the company’s gene therapies creep closer to a regulatory sign-off.

The farthest along so far is Eyevensys’ therapy to treat non-infectious uveitis, or inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, which can cause serious vision loss without proper treatment. That anti-tumor necrosis factor protein is in phase 2 clinical studies, with the data collected from those trials being used to direct the development of the upgraded Electrotransfection System.

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Eyevensys formed its two new partnerships shortly after raking in more than $40 million in a dual-tranche series B venture funding round. The round first closed at the beginning of 2020, when longtime backer Boehringer Ingelheim led the $30 million influx, with help from new and existing investors Pontifax, Bpifrance, CapDecisif, Inserm Transfert, the Global Health Sciences Fund and Pureos Bioventures.

Then, just last month, Eyevensys tacked on another $12 million to its expanded series B-plus round. This time around, the funding was led by Korea Investment Partners, with other unnamed existing investors also joining in.