SALT LAKE CITY, UT, USA I February 20, 2014 I The John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah today announced that Voyant Biotherapeutics, LLC, a company formed out of its Center for Translational Medicine (CTM), has signed an exclusive R&D Collaboration Agreement with Allergan, Inc. (NYSE: AGN), a multispecialty health care company headquartered in Irvine, Calif. The agreement provides for a combination of upfront, research and milestone payments. Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to identify disease-associated pathways and targets for the development of new therapeutic agents to treat ocular disease. A primary effort of this collaboration will be centered on new treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of irreversible vision loss worldwide.

“This relationship is special in that it is a true collaboration between CTM, Voyant and Allergan scientists,” said Gregory Hageman, Ph.D., John A. Moran Presidential Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and Executive Director of Moran’s CTM. “The CTM’s incredibly talented, multidisciplinary research team and its unique cadre 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—have provided a robust understanding of AMD and a solid platform upon which to conduct this collaboration.”

“We are extremely excited about the significance of this collaboration,” commented Dr. Randall Olson, CEO of the Moran Eye Center. “This collaboration could not have happened without the generous contributions of hundreds of people supporting the CTM in its quest to find new treatments for the prevention and treatment of AMD and other ocular diseases. This collaboration is further testament to the groundbreaking research that is being conducted at the Moran.”

“This agreement represents the beginning of an innovative academic-industry partnership at the University of Utah and the Moran Eye Center,” said Bryan Ritchie, Associate Vice President for Research Commercialization, Technology & Venture Commercialization, University of Utah. “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.”

“We look forward to a productive collaboration with Voyant to identify and develop novel therapies for retinal disease. This agreement highlights Allergan’s commitment to academic and corporate partnerships to increase long-term innovation,” said Scott Whitcup, CSO and EVP of R&D at Allergan.

About the John A. Moran Eye Center

The Moran Eye Center is the largest eye care and vision research center in the Intermountain West, and is part of the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics. With collaborations around the world, research advancements at the Moran provide cutting-edge diagnostics, novel treatments and creative new procedures designed to cure blinding eye diseases, and prevent vision loss and other associated problems. Moran has 33 ophthalmologists, 22 research faculty and 10 optometrists who specialize in every field of vision care, including such conditions as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, cornea and external eye diseases.

About the Moran Center for Translational Medicine

The CTM was created in 2010 to expedite the pace at which basic scientific discoveries are translated into clinically effective diagnostics and therapies for the treatment of AMD and its co-segregating diseases. The conceptual framework for the CTM was derived from a deep understanding of the biology of AMD and other ocular diseases. It draws upon the collective strengths and expertise of an interdisciplinary, collaborative team of more than 50 cell and molecular biologists, immunologists, geneticists, pharmacologists, epidemiologists, microbiologists, pathologists and clinicians to expedite its translational mission. The key concept of the CTM is that its unique resources and strong clinical and scientific expertise will complement the core competencies of collaborating corporate and academic partners.

About Voyant Biotherapeutics LLC

Voyant is an early-stage life sciences company founded in 2012 to capitalize and expedite the commercialization of scientific discoveries made by Moran CTM scientists and clinicians and their collaborators. A major focus of Voyant is to facilitate collaborative commercial partnerships relating to the identification, validation and development of new therapeutic targets for age-related macular degeneration and other ophthalmic disorders.

SOURCE: Allergan