NOV 13, 2014
The National Eye Institute (NEI) has awarded a $1.37 million research contract to ONL Therapeutics to develop novel therapies for preserving sight in retinal diseases by protecting photoreceptors against apoptosis.
The company’s lead product, ONL101, is a first-in-class small molecule peptide initially being developed for the protection of photoreceptors in retinal detachment, a condition for which the product has been granted orphan disease designation.
NEI granted the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract following the successful completion of a Phase I SBIR project which focused on demonstrating the feasibility of the company's approach to blocking photoreceptor apoptosis in retinal detachment animal models.
Preclinical data demonstrated its ability to protect photoreceptors against the apoptosis process triggered by retinal detachment. In in vivo retinal detachment models, up to 80 percent of the photoreceptor cells that would normally die without treatment were kept alive following administration of ONL101.
"Receipt of this second SBIR grant from the National Eye Institute provides further validation for our foundational photoreceptor protection technology, as well as our ONL101 product," said John Freshley, chief executive officer of ONL. "This funding will allow for continued evaluation of ONL101's ability to protect photoreceptors in cases of retinal detachment and, ultimately, preserve vision. Illustrating this mechanism of photoreceptor protection not only helps advance ONL101 as a treatment for retinal detachment but also provides rationale for the technology's application to other important retinal diseases such as wet and dry age-related macular degeneration."