Bascom Palmer Licenses Retinal Disorder Product to Biotech Company

In a deal that may lead to the first viable treatment for retinal diseases, Amarantus Bioscience Holdings, Inc., a biotechnology company, has exercised its exclusive right to license intellectual property related to a protein product developed by a researcher at the Miller School of Medicine’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

MANF (Mesencephalic-Astrocyte-derived Neurotrophic Factor) is believed to have broad potential because it is a naturally occurring protein produced by the body to reduce or prevent cell death in response to injury or disease. The license agreement covers its use for retinal diseases, include age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, inherited retinal disorders (including Retinitis pigmentosa), sporadic retinal disorders, other degenerative retinal disorders and retinal injuries.

“We are quite excited about the possibilities for MANF,” said Rong Wen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology and the Bascom Palmer scientist whose research has demonstrated the efficacy of MANF in experimental models of retinal degeneration. “The next step will be to develop the proper method of delivering it to the back of the eye.”

“With interim toxicology data now in hand, and with multiple data sets forthcoming in the third and fourth quarter for the MANF ophthalmology program focused initially on Retinitis pigmentosa, we believe now is the ideal time to exercise our option and move forward under the auspices of a full license agreement,” said Gerald E. Commissiong, president and CEO of Amarantus. “Research groups around the globe have begun to investigate MANF’s utility across a variety of ophthalmological areas, and this license from one of the world’s preeminent ophthalmological institutes positions Amarantus as the sole commercial outlet for current and future inventions.”

The license agreement was brokered by U Innovation, the University of Miami’s center for technology advancement.

“The U Innovation team is very pleased with this license agreement and looks forward to successfully concluding other deals for faculty across the institution,” said Norma Sue Kenyon, Ph.D., Martin Kleiman Professor of Surgery, Microbiology and Immunology, and Biomedical Engineering, and Chief Innovation Officer for the Miller School. “Our goal is to continue enhancing commercialization support for our faculty, and it is exciting to see the scientific excellence of Dr. Wen and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute moving further along the translational spectrum for the ultimate benefit of patients.”

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