Arctos Medical: Novartis kauft Schweizer Augenheilkunde-Unternehmen

Novartis baut sein Portfolio in der Augenheilkunde mit der Übernahme von Arctos Medical aus, einem Spin-Off der Universität Bern. Damit erweitere der Konzern sein bestehendes Angebot um ein Gentherapieprogramm für Patientinnen und Patienten mit schwerem Sehverlust.

© Bereitgestellt von Blick Novartis will mit der Übernahme seine Forschung im Bereich der Augenheilkunde erweitern.

Mit der Übernahme sichere sich Novartis das präklinische «Optogenetik-AAV-Gentherapieprogramm» und die Technologie von Arctos, teilte Novartis am Dienstag mit. AAV steht dabei für «Adeno-assoziierte Viren». Die Optogenetik entwickle sich zu einem vielversprechenden Therapieansatz, um das Sehvermögen von Patientinnen und Patienten, die blind eingestuft sind, wiederherzustellen, heisst es in der Mitteilung.

Wie Cynthia Grosskreutz vom Research Institut NIBR im Gespräch mit AWP betonte, verfügt Novartis branchenweit über eines der umfangreichsten Research-Portfolios in der Augenheilkunde. Arctos entwickelte seine Technologie laut Mitteilung als potenzielle Methode zur Behandlung von vererbten Netzhautdystrophien (IRD) und anderen Krankheiten, die mit dem Verlust von Photorezeptoren einhergehen. Dazu zählt etwa die altersbedingte Makuladegeneration (AMD).

Während bestehende gentherapeutische Behandlungen auf die Korrektur eines bestimmten Gens abzielen, ist die Technologie von Arctos nicht auf ein bestimmtes Gen beschränkt und kann daher potenziell viele Formen von IRD unabhängig von der zugrunde liegenden Mutation behandeln.

Laut Novartis wird das firmeneigene, lichtempfindliche Optogen von Arctos mittels Gentherapie in bestimmte Netzhautzellen eingebracht und verwandelt die Zielzellen in Ersatzzellen, die den Fotorezeptoren ähneln. Im Erfolgsfall könnte ein auf dieser Technologie basierendes Therapeutikum zur Behandlung aller Krankheiten eingesetzt werden, die zur Erblindung aufgrund des Absterbens der Photorezeptoren führen.

Für Grosskreutz, den Global Head of Ophthalmology bei NIBR, ist gerade die Augenheilkunde besonders geeignet für den Einsatz von Gentherapien. «Einerseits sieht man das Organ direkt vor sich, das behandelt wird», erklärt die Expertin. Zudem seien gerade das Auge und der Sehprozess mittlerweile sehr gut erforscht, so dass man sehr genau weiss, wie und wo man mit einer Gentherapie ansetzen könnte.

Noch ist dies aber Zukunftsmusik, denn die Arctos-Technologie etwa wurde bislang nur in Tieren versucht. «Diese Technologie befindet sich aktuell noch in einem sehr frühen klinischen Stadium, erscheint aber von dem, was wie bisher gesehen haben als sehr vielversprechend.»

(SDA)

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