Trinity Campus Company Genable Receives €5m Investment for Blindness Treatment Trials

Posted on: 18 November 2011

Trinity College Dublin campus company, Genable, has successfully raised €5m to support the company’s research into a suppression and replacement gene therapy technology that aims to cure a form of blindness.  The fundraising effort, led by Fountain Healthcare Partners alongside existing investors Delta Partners, will allow Genable to bring the drug, GT038, to clinical trials in the treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).

Retinitis Pigmentosa is a form of inherited blindness in which a genetic mutation in the rhodopsin gene causes a patient’s sight to worsen over time, eventually leading to blindness.  There are currently no available therapies for RP.  By focusing on the defective gene the Genable therapy will suppress the mutated gene and replace it with a healthy version of the gene that has been genetically modified to ensure it cannot, in turn, be suppressed.  This simple combination represents a new paradigm in medicine with the potential to cure this debilitating disease and not just treat the symptoms.  

Professor of Genetics at Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology and co-Founder of Genable Technologies Limited Jane Farrar said: “We are extremely pleased to see GT038 raise the necessary finance to translate basic research performed at Trinity into the clinic.  It will help raise awareness of Retinitis Pigmentosa as a serious disease and ultimately help more patients receive therapy for their disease.”

Speaking about the achievement Technology Transfer Cast Manager at Trinity Research and Innovation Gordon Elliott said: “We wish to congratulate Professor Farrar and her team for reaching this milestone. This latest good news of commercial support for a Trinity campus company is another example of the valuable outputs from College alongside the generation of top quality graduates and high impact academic publications. The investment is a result of dedicated efforts by our scientists to translate their inventions along the innovation pathway – towards products to meet global human needs as well as increasing the potential for significant economic benefits here in Ireland.”

Established in 2003, Genable Technologies Ltd is a privately held, venture backed, Irish bio-pharmaceutical company which focuses on developing new gene medicines to treat dominant genetic diseases.  The Trinity based team, which includes Professor of Genetics, Jane Farrar, Professor of Medical Molecular Genetics, Peter Humphries, and Research Fellow in Genetics, Dr Paul Kenna, has pioneered research into this disease over several years. The background research has been supported by Fighting Blindness Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Foundation Fighting Blindness-National Neurovision Research Institute (USA), Enterprise Ireland & EVI-GenoRet (EU FP6-funded).  Genable Technologies Ltd, was granted orphan drug designation for GT038 by the European Medicines Agency in December 2010.