August 14, 2020

Atsena Therapeutics acquires exclusive rights to Gene Therapy for GUCY2D-associated Leber Congenital Amaurosis

  • Therapy currently being evaluated in Phase I/II clinical study
  • Company formed with $8.15 million Series 1; led by founding investors Hatteras Venture Partners and the Foundation Fighting Blindness

DURHAM, N.C., July 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Atsena Therapeutics, a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on bringing the life-changing power of genetic medicine to reverse or prevent blindness, today announced that it has acquired exclusive rights to a gene therapy targeting GUCY2D-associated Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA1), a genetic eye disease that affects the retina and is a leading cause of blindness in children, from Sanofi, which originally licensed it from the University of Florida. The therapy was created in the laboratory of Atsena Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Shannon Boye, Ph.D., and Founder and Chief Technology Officer Sanford Boye, M.Sc., at the University of Florida.

“We are thrilled that our gene therapy for LCA1 is coming home to Atsena and that we will have the opportunity to further its development,” said Shannon Boye. “Atsena was founded to advance treatments for inherited retinal diseases and believes in centering patients’ perspectives and needs in all we do. We are honored to continue to work with LCA1 patients and their families as we strive to treat this debilitating disease.”

LCA is the most common cause of blindness in children, impacting two to three per 100,000. LCA1 is caused by mutations in the GUCY2D gene and results in early and severe vision impairment or blindness. GUCY2D-LCA1 is one of the most common forms of LCA, affecting roughly 20 percent of patients who live with this inherited retinal disease.

Atsena has an ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial evaluating this gene therapy in LCA1 patients. The second cohort in the trial is expected to be dosed in the fall of 2020.

“Atsena’s gene therapy has the potential to be a major advance in treating blindness in both children and adults affected by this inherited retinal disease,” said Benjamin Yerxa, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness and Atsena board director. “The foundation was instrumental in supporting proof of concept studies in the founders’ labs over the last 15 years. Now, via investment in Atsena through our Retinal Degeneration (RD) Fund, we are excited to support this potential breakthrough treatment for LCA1.”

Atsena closed a Series 1 funding of $8.15 million in April 2020, led by founding investors Hatteras Venture Partners and the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ RD Fund with participation by Osage University Partners, PBM Capital and the University of Florida. Patrick Ritschel, M.B.A., co-founder and former President of gene therapy company StrideBio, serves as Atsena’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Atsena is pleased to have the support of an enthusiastic investor base that shares our dedication to bringing the life-changing power of genetic medicine to patients living with LCA1 and other forms of blindness,” said Ritschel. “We look forward to working closely with our investors and patients as we continue to grow, and expect to announce additional milestones later this year.”

About Atsena Therapeutics

Atsena Therapeutics is a clinical-stage gene therapy company, focused on bringing the life-changing power of genetic medicine to reverse or prevent blindness. The company has an ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial evaluating a potential therapy for one of the most common causes of blindness in children. Its additional pipeline of leading preclinical assets is powered by an adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology platform tailored to overcome the hurdles presented by inherited retinal disease, and its approach is guided by the specific needs of each patient condition. Founded by pioneers in ocular gene therapy, Atsena has a licensing, research and manufacturing collaboration with the University of Florida and is headquartered in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, an environment rich in gene therapy expertise. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Tony Plohoros
6 Degrees
(908) 591-2839
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