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Ascendis, Frazier spin off a new global ophthalmology company

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Ascendis Pharma A/S has formed a strategic partnership with the investment firm Frazier Life Sciences to launch Eyconis, Inc., a new standalone ophthalmic company that will advance a proprietary ophthalmic product portfolio.

Let’s start with Ascendis.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark—with U.S.-based operations in Redwood City, California—the biopharmaceutical company has largely focused on using its platform technology to develop three independent endocrinology rare disease product candidates, currently in clinical development.

Its other areas of focus include oncology and ophthalmology—the company’s most recent major investment.

Talk about this technology.

The company’s TransCon (transient conjugation) platform has been designed to enable temporary linking of an inert carrier to a parent drug via known biology, according to Ascendis.

Depending on a chosen carrier, the platform’s prodrugs can be tailored to exert systemic or localized effects to meet a specific therapeutic goal, per the company.

This titrated approach can also be used for proteins, peptides, or small molecules in different therapeutic domains.

Now this new company.

Similar to Ascendis, the Eyconis spin-off is based in Redwood City, California, with the exclusive rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialize the TransCon ophthalmology assets across the globe.

The company’s investors include Frazier, RA Capital Management, venBio, and HealthQuest Capital.

Who’s at the helm of the company?

The following executives:

  • Executive Chairman: Emmett Cunningham, MD, PhD, MPH
    • Past: senior partner at HealthQues Capital
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO): Oliver Boris Stauch
    • Past: head of Ophthalmology at Ascendis.

And what are the therapeutic targets?

According to Dr. Cunningham, the company will be taking up the opportunity to develop improved treatments for retinal conditions such as:

  • Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Diabetic macular edema (DME)
  • Retinal vein occlusion (RVO)
  • Geographic atrophy (GA)

“We believe the TransCon technology platform will be the first to achieve long-acting and effective delivery of multiple clinically validated biologics,” he stated, “which together constitute the most commonly used therapies for the major causes of retinal blindness.”

Any numbers to know yet?

Yes, actually … in addition to granting Eyconis exclusive rights to its products, Ascendis has also received an equity position in the new company and will be eligible to receive “development, regulatory, and sales milestone payments of up to $248 million,” as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales of any commercialized products.

And the overarching goal?

Essentially, to develop best-in-class breakthrough therapies to treat retinal disease.