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February 21, 2014

Allergan Inks Eye Disease-Focused Deal with Voyant, John A. Moran Eye Center

Gregory Hageman, Ph.D., examines eye tissue from a collection of more than 6,000 pairs of eyes from human donors at a depository housed at the University of Utah's John A. Moran Eye Center. [Business Wire]

  • Voyant Biotherapeutics, a company spun out of the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah's Center for Translational Medicine (CTM), is teaming up with Irvine, CA-based firm and Botox producer Allergan in an R&D agreement. The two companies will identify ocular disease-associated pathways and targets to develop new therapeutics for eye diseases. The collaboration will be giving special attention to novel treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A combination of upfront, research, and milestone payments are all part of the agreement.

    Moran's CTM was founded in 2010 with the aim of speeding up the process of developing new therapeutics and diagnostics for AMD and similar diseases. Gregory Hageman, Ph.D., who is John A. Moran presidential professor in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences as well as executive director of the CTM, said in a statement that the CTM features a number of resources—including "multiple, well-characterized patient cohorts, a repository of human eyes derived from greater than 6,000 donors, and extensive population-based records housed within the Utah Population Database"—that have aided in AMD research and should likewise be a similarily big aid to the collaboration. 

    "It is our hope that this entrepreneurial collaboration between the university, Allergan, and Voyant will not only generate breakthrough, commercially viable products that will produce long-lasting health, financial and employment returns for the parties, but will also attract other similar agreements from leading companies," added Bryan Ritchie, associate vp for research commercialization, technology & venture commercialization at the University of Utah.

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