Horama SAS, a gene therapy company based in Paris and specialising in the development of treatments of ophthalmic disease, has announced the receipt of €4 million in venture funding. The company, launched in March 2014, is developing new gene therapies for the treatment of inheritied retinal disorders using adeno-associated viruses (AAV) vectors as delivery vehicles for engineered gene transcripts. The investment will be used for the development of two products, HORA-PDE6B and HORA-RLPB1 for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa PDE6 β and retinitis punctata albescens, respectively.
Horama claim that “5.1 million individuals worldwide are suffering from retinal dystrophies, rare genetic pathologies slowly progressing towards blindness.” The company aims to develop a diversified portfolio out of a gene therapy platform, which currently comprises “two programs benefiting from this Series A: HORA-PDE6B (retinitis pigmentosa), planning to enroll its first patient in Q1 2017, and HORA-RLPB1 (RPA or Retinitis Punctuata Albescens) currently at preclinical stage.” Additional products in the Horama pipeline include HORA-RPE65, the most advanced product iunder develipment by the company, for the treatment of Leber congenital amaurosis-2, and HORA-CHM for the treatment of choroideremia. According to the company, a single administration using their AAV vector system may bring about a therapeutic effect following a sub-retinal injection.
Horama has assembled internationally recognized scientists in the field of gene therapy, including Dr. Philippe Moullier, Director of Research at INSERM and Director of the Atlantic Gene Therapies Institute, Dr. Fabienne Rolling, INSERM Research Director, Prof. M. Weber, Head of Department at the Eye Clinic of Nantes University Hospital, Dr. Guylène Le Meur, Hospital Practitioner at Nantes University Hospital, Prof. Christian Hamel, formerly Research Director at Inserm and the founding director of the Montpellier Neurosciences Institute, and Dr. Vasiliki Kalatzis, Manager of Research at the Montpellier Neurosciences Institute. Commenting on the funding milestone Denis Cayet, Chairman of Horama stated, “I am grateful to Omnes Capital, Sham Innovation Santé and GO Capital for their trust. This financing round is a recognition of our potential to successfully develop new ophthalmic gene therapies, for tens of thousands of patients without any treatment to date. It will help the company to be appropriately structured to efficiently progress into the clinic of HORA-PDE6B and actively pursue the development of HORA-RLPB1”.