NightstaRx Ltd ("Nightstar"), a biopharmaceutical company specialising in developing gene therapies for inherited retinal dystrophies, announces a $35 million Series B financing round. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of the world's leading venture capital firms. Founding investor Syncona, an independent subsidiary of the Wellcome Trust, also contributed to the round. In conjunction with the Series B, Nightstar has expanded its pipeline with 5 further programme licences from the University of Oxford through its technology commercialisation subsidiary, Isis Innovation. The funds will enable Nightstar to continue clinical development of its gene therapy for choroideremia and advance multiple retinal gene therapy programs into human trials.
In association with the financing, the Company has added David Mott to the Board of Nightstar. David is currently General Partner of NEA where he also chairs and sits on a number of Boards. Chris Hollowood, Partner of Syncona will continue as Chairman of Nightstar.
Nightstar's lead programme is a gene therapy for an inherited form of progressive blindness, choroideremia, developed by Professor Robert MacLaren at Oxford's Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology. The therapy has shown promising results in a clinical trial published in the Lancet in January 2014. This approach uses a viral vector known as adeno-associated virus (AAV) to deliver a wild-type copy of the Rab-escort protein 1 (REP-1) gene (AAV2-REP1) into the retinal cells of choroideremia patients.
David Fellows, CEO of Nightstar said:
"We are delighted to welcome a high quality investor such as NEA who supports our goal to build Nightstar into a leading commercial retinal gene therapy enterprise. Our mission is to restore or maintain sight in patients suffering from a range of untreatable blinding diseases and the participation of both NEA and Syncona is essential to realising that mission."
Dave Mott, Partner at NEA said:
"The Nightstar team has made ground breaking progress in gene therapy treatment for retinal dystrophies. We are very excited about the technology, the team and the product candidates at Nightstar. We look forward to working with them to advance their pipeline and ultimately bring therapies to market that make a difference in these sight-threatening disorders."
Robert MacLaren, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford said:
"Gene therapy has huge potential as a treatment for many patients who are suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and other genetic forms of blindness. We have established an internationally renowned team around the choroideremia programme and I am delighted that this additional funding will allow us to develop our other retinal gene therapy projects into real treatments for patients."
Adam Stoten, Head of Technology Transfer, Life Sciences at Isis Innovation said:
"We are excited to be partnering with Nightstar on additional Oxford gene therapy programmes and look forward to the company's new investment accelerating these technologies towards real clinical benefit in patients suffering from debilitating retinal diseases."