Novartis buys gene therapy firm Arctos Medical in vision loss treatment push

By Reuters

<div> <p><span class="caps">ZURICH</span> -Swiss drugmaker Novartis said on Tuesday it has bought gene therapy specialist Arctos Medical for an undisclosed amount, aiming to boost its efforts to find treatments for severe vision loss. </p> <p>Arctos’s technology is a potential way to treat inherited retinal dystrophies (<span class="caps">IRD</span>s) and other diseases that involve photoreceptor loss, such as age-related macular degeneration (<span class="caps">AMD</span>). </p> <p>Existing gene therapy treatments aim to correct a specific gene, so only a small number of patients can benefit, Novartis said. The Arctos technology is not limited to a specific gene, and can potentially address many forms of <span class="caps">IRD</span>s, it said.</p> <p><span class="caps">IRD</span>s affect more than 2 million people globally and often result in complete blindness. <span class="caps">AMD</span>, meanwhile, affects an estimated 170 million people globally, Novartis said.</p> <p>The acquisition underscores its commitment to using optogenetics-based therapies to restore vision to patients with advanced blindness, the company said.</p> <p>“Optogenetics is emerging as a promising therapeutic approach that might restore sight to patients who are legally blind,” Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said in a statement. </p> </div>