Guildford, UK, 4 April 2006: ReNeuron Group plc (LSE: RENE.L) today announces initial survival efficacy data with its ReN003 stem cell therapy programme for diseases of the retina. The joint research, led by Professors John Greenwood and Stephen Moss at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in London, showed expansion of human retinal progenitor cells with markers of photoreceptors over multiple population doublings. These progenitors showed an ability to engraft and protect the photoreceptor layer of the retina from degeneration in a retinal dystrophic model.
The research was funded by a Medical Research Council stem cells strategic research grant, and will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 30 April to May 4, 2006.
In order to further its ReN003 retinal stem cell programme, ReNeuron today also announces that it has entered into a collaborative research agreement with the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School, Boston, US. The research programme under this collaboration will take place in the laboratories of Dr Michael Young, and aims to establish the key conditions for growing retinal stem cell lines that can be developed into a scalable, efficacious and safe therapy that utilises ReNeuron’s proprietary c-mycERTAM expansion technology. The objective is to develop these stem cell lines to treat major blindness- causing diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and diabetic retinopathy, which together represent a major unmet medical need.
Dr John Sinden, Chief Scientific Officer of ReNeuron, said:
“I am delighted that ReNeuron is working so closely with both the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and the Schepens, two of the world’s major research and clinical centres in the field of retinal diseases. Our new collaboration with Schepens will combine their important patented technology and know-how with ReNeuron’s versatile stem cell platform, with the aim of generating novel stem cell therapies for these major retinal diseases. Future collaborations with both institutions offer the potential to take these therapies through to the clinic in the most efficient way possible.”
Notes to editors
About ReNeuron Group plc
ReNeuron is a leading, UK-based adult stem cell therapy business. The Company is applying its novel stem cell platform technologies in the development of ground-breaking stem cell therapies to serve significant and unmet or poorly-met clinical needs.
ReNeuron has used its c-mycERTAM technology to generate genetically stable neural stem cell lines. This technology platform has multi-national patent protection and is fully regulated by means of a chemically-induced safety switch. Cell growth can therefore be completely arrested prior to in vivo implantation.
The Company’s lead stem cell therapy, ReN001 for chronic stroke disability, is in late pre-clinical development. Subject to successful completion of pre-clinical testing, the Company plans to file for approval to commence initial clinical trials in stroke later this year, with trials commencing as soon as possible thereafter.
The Company has also generated pre-clinical efficacy data with its ReN005 stem cell therapy for Huntington’s disease, a rare, genetic and fatal neurodegenerative disorder which affects around 1 in 100,000 people. This programme is in pre-clinical development.
In addition to its stroke and Huntington’s disease programmes, ReNeuron is developing stem cell therapies for Parkinson’s disease, Type 1 diabetes and diseases of the retina.
ReNeuron has also leveraged its stem cell technologies into non-therapeutic areas – its ReNcellTM range of cell lines for use in drug discovery applications in the pharmaceutical industry.
ReNeuron’s shares are traded on the London AIM market under the symbol RENE.L, and its warrants are traded under the symbol RENW.L.
Further information on ReNeuron and its products can be found at www.reneuron.com.
About UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IO) is one of the largest research institutes in the world dedicated to furthering the understanding of vision and eye disease with a mission to bring new innovative therapies to the clinic for the benefit of patients worldwide. The IO is part of UCL Biomedicine, one of the largest aggregates of biomedical science anywhere in the world. It was rated 5* (highest possible rating) in the last 2 research assessment exercises.
The IO faculty of 40 scientists embraces a wide range of talent extending from investigators of fundamental cell processes to clinician scientists running clinical trials. The IO partners with Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and has strong links with other eye hospitals in the UK and Europe. Stem cell biology is strongly represented at IO with four MRC-funded projects currently running, one of which supports the collaborative work described above. A recently accredited clinical stem cell facility is being used to treat patients with ocular surface disease. The IO is also world leader in gene discovery and gene therapy in ocular disease.
The range of eye diseases being studied by IO staff is wide, but areas of particular interest include retinal degeneration, including that affecting young people and also age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. AMD is the most common cause of untreatable blindness in the industrial world.
About the Schepens Eye Research Institute
Founded in 1951, The Schepens Eye Research Institute is the largest independent eye research institute in the Americas. An affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, the Institute has made a major impact on ophthalmic practice internationally. Its faculty has published over 4,000 scientific papers and has trained more than 600 vision scientists and ophthalmic specialists from the United States and more than 40 countries around the world. Schepens scientists participate in interactive research teams whose goals are to develop more powerful methods to diagnose non-invasively eye diseases, and to create novel treatments based on ocular gene therapy, retinal and stem cell transplantation, low vision aids and rehabilitation, corneal transplantation, and tissue- and bio-engineering.
Michael Hunt, Chief Executive Officer
John Sinden, Chief Scientific Officer
Tel: 44 (0)1483 302 560
Tel: 44 (0)20 7831 3113
The terms “ReNeuron” or “the Company” refer to ReNeuron Group plc and its subsidiary undertakings