Evotec has entered into a research collaboration with the Center for Regenerative Therapies TU Dresden (CRTD) to discover novel small molecule candidates for retinal diseases. CRTD is a recognized leader in understanding the biology of stem cells to develop new therapies for neurodegenerative and hematological diseases. Under the terms of the collaboration, Evotec will leverage CRTD's expertise in stem cell-based retinal disease modelling and will apply its leading induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology platform to identify promising drug candidates for potential clinical development.
The global retinal dystrophy market—which includes both rare genetic diseases as well as glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy—represents millions of patients. Whilst cell replacement and gene therapies will likely play an important role in the future, there continues to be a need for small molecule treatments as both monotherapy and in combination with other therapies. Through the use of patient-derived iPSCs and subsequent differentiation into various cell types contained in the retina, the collaboration aims to build highly relevant "disease-in-a-dish" models that may lead to potential cures for the major causes of blindness.
Prof. Ezio Bonifacio, Director, CRTD, said: "As an academic institution where our employees and students hail from more than 30 different countries, CRTD was founded on scientific principles that support strong interdisciplinary research on a global scale. Due to this, we recognise the importance of generating more productive relationships between academia and industry across all countries. As a leading discovery alliance partner, we believe that Evotec shares our bold vision and are very pleased to collaborate with the company under its EVT Innovate platform. We look forward to working closely with our colleagues at Evotec to discover new therapeutic approaches for retinal diseases and laying the groundwork for better overall human health."
Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, commented: "We are very pleased to enter into this collaboration with CRTD in the field of retinal diseases, which constitutes a market of enormous unmet medical need. CRTD is a world leader in stem cell-derived modelling of retinal disease and thus fits perfectly into our strategy to continue to build and expand Evotec's unique iPSC based drug discovery platform."
Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.