Novartis boosts optogenetics portfolio with Arctos buy

Novartis will bolster is adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy-based options for different forms of blindness through the acquisition of Arctos Medical.

Swiss pharma giant Novartis has acquired gene therapy firm Arctos for an undisclosed fee, gaining one pre-clinical optogenetic AAV gene therapy program and its technology platform.

Optogenetics uses light to modulate molecular events in a targeted manner in organisms or living cells and according to Novartis the acquisition supports its commitment to using optogenetics-based therapies to restore vision to patients with advanced blindness.

Image: Stock Photo Secrets

“Arctos’ technology targets specific retinal cells. These cells transmit visual signals to the brain. Arctos’ proprietary technology renders the targeted retinal cells light-sensitive and makes it possible to use the targeted cells as replacement photoreceptor-like cells,” a spokesperson for Novartis told BioProcess Insider.

“The approach is distinctive from other gene therapy approaches in that it is not limited to a specific gene. For this reason, it can potentially address many forms of inherited retinal dystrophies (IRD) regardless of the underlying mutation. In addition, unlike some other optogenetic-based gene therapy approaches, the Arctos technology does not require the additional use of an external device, such as goggles.”

Novartis claims the technology could be used to treat any blinding disease where vision loss is precipitated by photoreceptor death and will evaluate all possible diseases for which the technology might be used to benefit patients.

“Novartis is committed to bringing the transformative potential of gene therapy to patients. Arctos adds another approach and tool to our gene therapy arsenal in our efforts to improve quality of life for patients with severe vision loss due to photoreceptor death. The addition expands the company’s footprint in the ophthalmology space and enhances its position as an AAV-based gene therapy powerhouse,” said Novartis.

Novartis will not gain any of Arctos’ employees and the financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Leave a Reply