RetroSense Therapeutics launches clinical trials on 1st human patients

RetroSense Therapeutics has taken a big step toward commercializing its gene therapy technology (it helps restore vision) this spring now that it’s begun studying its impact on patients. The Ann Arbor-based life sciences startup has launched the clinical studies for its technology, including testing on its first human subjects. The first and second phase of the clinical study is expected to wrap up within the next year.

"It's a huge milestone for us," says Sean Ainsworth, CEO of RetroSense Therapeutics. "We need the human clinical studies before we can get approval from the FDA."

The 6-year-old startup is developing a novel gene therapy to restore vision in retinal degenerative diseases, using technology licensed from Wayne State University. RetroSense Therapeutics' platform extracts a new gene from blue-green algae that helps make cells more photo sensitive. The company plans to apply this gene to human cells to regenerate photo receptors in the retina.

RetroSense Therapeutics received orphan status for its technology two years ago. Orphan status gives a biopharmaceutical company bureaucratic cover to continue keep pushing forward its commercialization efforts by helping protect its rights to its research.

That has enabled the company's core team of four employees and half a dozen independent contractors to get the company to clinical trails. RetroSense Therapeutics leadership still believes it has a ways to go before it can hit commercialization.

"It's going to take a few years at least," Ainsworth says.

Source: Sean Ainsworth, CEO of RetroSense Therapeutics
Writer: Jon Zemke

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