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Sanofi Division, Max Planck to Partner on Retinal Research

Max Planck Society in Germany and Fovea Pharmaceuticals in Paris have agreed to a research and licensing agreement on therapies for restoring vision to patients with diseases affecting the retina. Fovea is the ophthalmology division of the French drug company Sanofi-Aventis.

Fovea’s team plans to work with the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt to advance research on the retinal binding protein channelrhodopsin 2 (ChR2) and its application in retinal diseases. In addition, Fovea plans to accelerate the development of optogenetics as a tool to assess feasibility of converting certain types of retinal cells into photoreceptors. The research could potentially restore visual function in patients suffering from low vision or blindness.

Under the three-year agreement, the Max Planck Institute will receive EUR 450,000 (USD 630,300), while the Max Planck Society’s technology transfer unit will receive upfront and milestone payments if the joint research effort reaches the stage of clinical development and commercialization. These payments could reach a total of EUR 26.4 million (USD 37 million). The unit will also be eligible for royalties on sales of products developed under the agreement.

In exchange, Sanofi will receive priority access, as well as exclusive and worldwide rights to the technology, inventions and derived technologies of the Max Planck Institute research activities in ChR2.

The retina is susceptible to a variety of diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and other inherited retinal degenerations, uveitis, retinal detachment, and eye cancers ocular melanoma and retinoblastoma. Each of these can lead to visual loss or complete blindness.

Read more: Genes Associated with Glaucoma Identified

Photo: Paleontour/Flickr

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