Novartis acquires gene therapy company Arctos Medical in treatment of vision loss By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Novartis logo is seen at the Swiss drugmaker’s cell and gene therapy plant in Stein, Switzerland, November 28, 2019. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann / File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Novartis said on Tuesday it had acquired gene therapy specialist Arctos Medical for an undisclosed amount, in a bid to step up efforts to find treatments for severe vision loss.

Arctos’ technology is a potential way to treat hereditary retinal dystrophies (IRD) and other diseases involving loss of photoreceptors, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Existing gene therapy treatments aim to correct a specific gene, so that only a small number of patients can benefit, Novartis said. Arctos technology is not limited to a specific gene and has the potential to treat many forms of IRD, he said.

IRD affects more than 2 million people worldwide and often results in complete blindness. AMD, meanwhile, affects around 170 million people worldwide, Novartis said.

The acquisition underscores its commitment to using optogenetic-based therapies to restore vision in patients with advanced blindness, the company said.

“Optogenetics is emerging as a promising therapeutic approach that could restore sight to legally blind patients,” Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, said in a statement.

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