RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—Opus Genetics, a clinical-stage gene therapy company that develops treatments for inherited retinal diseases, has announced that it has received $1.7 million in project-based funding from the Foundation Fighting Blindness to help advance two preclinical candidate programs. “Opus is immensely grateful for the generous support from the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which will catalyze our efforts in pioneering treatments for inherited retinal diseases," said Ben Yerxa, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Opus.

"This $1.7 million funding infusion makes a significant impact to help accelerate the development of these two preclinical candidates. Together, we strive toward a future where therapies to help treat patients with inherited retinal diseases are readily available.”

Opus received a $1 million Translational Research Acceleration Program (TRAP) award to conduct a preclinical safety study for a gene therapy vector designed to target rhodopsin-mediated autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RHO-adRP), the company stated. It anticipates this is the last preclinical study required before the gene therapy will enter clinical trials. RHO-adRP is one of the most common inherited retinal disorders, according to the company, estimated to affect approximately one in 51,000 people, or more than 6,000 people, in the U.S. alone.

Additionally, Opus received approximately $700,000 in project-based and operational funding to support the preclinical development of a novel viral vector for treating retinitis pigmentosa due to mutations in the proto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase MER (MERTK) gene, according to the announcement. The company is collaborating with the Foundation to begin IND-enabling studies for a newly designed adeno-associated virus (AAV) viral vector to replace mutated MERTK genes in the retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells of the retina.

“We're excited to announce our funding commitment to Opus, a trailblazer in inherited retinal disease therapeutics and a company created based on our mission of ultimately curing blindness caused by retinal degenerative diseases. This investment highlights our steadfast dedication to hastening innovative solutions for those combating inherited retinal diseases,” said Jason Menzo, chief executive officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. “In collaboration with Opus, we're propelling forward promising clinical candidate programs with the potential to revolutionize the lives of those affected by these challenging conditions.”