Oxford BioMedica of the UK has linked up with the USA's renowned Mayo Clinic to develop a novel gene therapy for the treatment of chronic glaucoma.

Under the terms of the agreement, the groups will undertake pre-clinical studies to establish the feasibility of treating glaucoma using Oxford BioMedica's LentiVector gene delivery technology expressing a COX-2 gene and a PGF-2 alpha receptor gene in order to reduce intraocular pressure. The collaboration includes an option for exclusive US rights to license Mayo Clinic's glaucoma technology.

The pact builds on earlier pre-clinical research, conducted by Mayo Clinic which has established initial proof-of-concept for this approach to treating chronic glaucoma. Oxford BioMedica noted that current treatment options include eye drops or eye surgery, "however these approaches are not effective in all cases".

The deal has gone down well with analysts at Singer Capital Markets who said "this is exciting news" for Oxford BioMedica as the agreement "offers both a further scientific validation of its gene delivery technology and an opportunity to ultimately add another candidate drug to its stable of four ocular development programmes". The latter four projects - Retinostat, StarGen, UshStat and EncorStat - are being developed with Sanofi.