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FDA Clears MCO-010 Gene Therapy as IND for Stargardt Macular Degeneration

A gene therapy for retinal degenerative diseases receives an investigational new drug (IND) clearance from the FDA to move forward with the Phase 2 trial of the multi-characteristic opsin (MCO-010) therapy.

A Phase 2 trial can begin investigations on MCO-010 gene therapy as treatment for patients with Stargardt disease. The multi-characteristic opsin ambient-light activatable optogenetic monotherapy may restore vision in patients with this rare macular degeneration.

The developer of MCO-010, Nanoscope Therapeutics Inc, announced that it received investigational new drug (IND) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The trial is expected to start in H1-2022. MCO-010 is designated as an orphan drug by the FDA for Stargardt disease and retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

The clincal-stage biotechnology company is currently conducting a Phase 2b multicenter, randomized, sham-controlled, double-masked study of MCO-010 for patients with retinitis pigmentosa.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of rare, genetic disorders associated with difficulty seeing at night and the inability to see peripherally due to the breakdown and loss of cells in the retina.

Stargardt is an inherited rare disease that affects children and adults. As a result of this retinal disease, photoreceptors in the eye degenerate. MCO-010 gene therapy makes them photosensitive by reprogramming the healthy retinal cells.

MCO-010 is a single intravitreal injection administered in a medical office setting. Proprietary AAV2 vectors deliver the MCO genes to the cells where they express polychromatic opsins and enable vision.

Patients with Stargardt and retinitis pigmentosa can utilize this therapy regardless of underlying gene mutations.

"Presently all existing trials attempt to slow down the progression of vision loss in patients with Stargardt disease, Optogenetic approach is to restore vision. This can be a groundbreaking attempt to evaluate optogenetic gene therapy to improve vision in Stargardt patients. I'm excited by the potential MCO-010 has to restore vision for many patients with sight loss caused by outer retinal dystrophies including dry age-related macular degeneration," David Boyer, MD, Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group, adjunct clinical professor of ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California said in a statement.