Applied GeneticTechnologies Corp. (AGTC) has entered into an R&D collaboration with Synpromics to develop synthetic promoters for enhanced gene therapies, the companies said today. The total value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

The companies agreed to use Synpromics’ technology to develop and optimize synthetic promoters for multiple cell types that will be used in the development of new gene therapy candidates.

The technology is intended to create a portfolio of man-made DNA sequences that gives researchers, product developers, and manufacturers greater control of gene expression than allowed by natural or endogenous promoters.

“Our proprietary synthetic promoter technology, combined with AGTC's expertise in development and manufacturing, has significant potential to advance enhanced gene therapy product development across a broad range of therapeutic targets,” Synpromics CEO David Venables, Ph.D., said in a statement.

The collaboration will join Synpromics’ technology with AGTC’s gene therapy platform, focused on treating severe diseases in ophthalmology. The platform uses the adeno-associated virus (AAV), which delivers healthy copies of the gene, replacing defective copies.

AGTC will pay Synpromics $1.5 million upfront, and will also fund research for the collaboration, as well as option exercise fees for each promoter, and payments tied to clinical and commercial milestones. Synpromics is also eligible for royalties on sales of products incorporating the covered promoters.

“We believe that Synpromics' strong capabilities in the field of synthetic promoters can be leveraged to develop optimized gene therapies with improved flexibility and stronger expression at lower doses,” stated AGTC president and CEO Sue Washer. “Additionally we believe that Synpromics' technology platform has the potential for broad applicability across our range of gene therapy products under development.”

AGTC has five disclosed ophthalmology development programs across four targets—including x-linked retinoscheis (XLRS), x-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), achromatopsia (ACHM) and wet age-related macular degeneration).

AGTC also has a non-ophthalmology clinical program, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and proof-of-concept data in multiple additional indications.

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