Replay launches HSV gene therapy company focused on retinal eye disease

Replay is launching Eudora, an HSV gene therapy company that will target genetic retinal diseases.

Replay has launched Eudora to expand its reach into retinal diseases.

Replay today announced the launch of Eudora, an HSV gene therapy company targeting genetic retinal diseases.

According to a news release, Eudora is the first of Replay’s product companies to leverage its high payload capacity herpes simplex virus (HSV) delivery vector, synHSV. Eudora’s co-founders, Professors Joe Glorioso, PhD, Mark Blumenkranz, MD, David Schaffer, Phd, and Vinit Mahajan, MD, PhD, are leaders in the fields of HSV and retinal disease gene therapy.

The company noted that its corporate structure separates technology development from therapeutic product development within disease area-specific product companies. Eudora is the first of Replay’s four synHSV gene therapy product companies, with the other three applying big DNA gene therapy to monogenic diseases of the brain, skin, and muscle.

Eudora’s pipeline includes retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease, and Usher syndrome type 1B. Replay’s synHSV technology is a high payload capacity gene-deleted HSV-1 vector capable of delivering up to 8 times the payload of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors. This facilitates the delivery of genes that are too big to fit into AAV and enables polygenic gene therapy. Replay is, additionally, developing an HSV vector that can deliver up to 30 times the AAV payload.

According to Adrian Woolfson, executive chairman, president and cofounder, the company’s differentiated corporate structure allows its platform technologies to be applied to indications in areas of high unmet medical need across a portfolio of focused product companies.

“Eudora, the first of these, is led by some of the world’s most authoritative experts in HSV and retinal gene therapy who are also seasoned entrepreneurs, and three of which have co-founded publicly listed companies,” Woolfson said in a news release. “Eudora provides Replay with the first opportunity to showcase the differentiated payload capacity of its synHSV technology, which we believe has transformative potential within the field of eye gene therapy and beyond.”

Lachlan MacKinnon, CEO and co-founder of Replay, added that the company is pleased to be working with a noted group of scientists entrepreneurs, and physicians.

“Eudora is the first of a series of Replay product companies, each of which showcases unique aspects of our suite of proprietary genomic medicine platform technologies, MacKinnon said in a statement. “We believe that our distinctive paradigm of separating platform development from product development represents the most optimal structure for efficiently leveraging the potential of our genomic medicine technology platforms and for bringing forward a new generation of genomic medicines to patients with high unmet medical needs.”

According to Glorioso, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the incorporation of Eudora presents an opportunity to leverage Replay’s next-generation HSV-1 delivery platform, developed by his team at the University of Pittsburgh over several decades and licensed to Replay.

“I believe that our next-generation HSV delivery platform has several distinct advantages, and the potential to be disruptive to existing viral delivery platforms,” he said in the release. “It will enable the delivery of large genes, as well as genomic genes that cannot readily be accommodated by AAV vectors. I am delighted to be able to further advance this technology with this distinguished team, who have a compelling track record of developing eye gene therapies and progressing them into the clinic.”

Moreover, Blumenkranz, the HJ Smead Professor Emeritus in the Department of Ophthalmology at the Stanford School of Medicine, pointed out that the formation of the company marks a key moment for retinal gene therapy.

“I look forward to working with this experienced group of entrepreneurs and drug developers to advance our promising new HSV-based gene therapies into the clinic” he said. “Replay’s broad biomedical expertise and resources provide a solid foundation for Eudora’s future success.”

Schaffer, the Hubbard Howe Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, pointed out that the change to boost the genetic payload that can be selectively delivered to target tissues using this next-generation HSV-1 delivery platform is intriguing.

Mahajan, a professor of Ophthalmology at the Stanford School of Medicine, added that with its current ability to deliver up to eight times the payload of AAV, the University of Pittsburgh synHSV technology licensed to Replay offers the possibility of addressing genetic eye diseases caused by large genes and genomic genes.

“This will result in an increased variety of gene therapy options for patients with genetic eye diseases,” Mahajan said.

Replay is a genome writing company, which aims to define the future of genomic medicine through reprogramming biology by writing and delivering DNA.

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