BlueRock Therapeutics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer, has exercised its option to exclusively license OpCT-001 for the treatment of primary photoreceptor diseases from FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics and Opsis Therapeutics.

OpCT-001 is an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived photoreceptor cell therapy candidate for human retinal diseases.

It is the lead cell therapy candidate being developed under the strategic research and development (R&D) agreement that was formed in 2021 by BlueRock, FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics, and Opsis.

BlueRock has exercised its option to exclusively license this candidate from both partners and further develop and commercialise it.

In return, FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics and Opsis have received an undisclosed license fee. Both firms are also eligible to receive payments upon achievement of certain development and commercial milestones.

BlueRock Therapeutics president and CEO Seth Ettenberg said: “The development of iPSC-derived therapies is an exciting scientific frontier that has great potential for restoring vision in patients living with vision impairment and blindness.

“This agreement is an exciting step in the maturation of our collaboration with the FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics and Opsis Therapeutics team, and we are thrilled to be advancing OpCT-001 to the clinic, with an IND filing planned for later this year.”

The partnership between the three companies was intended to discover and develop off-the-shelf iPSC-derived cell therapies to treat ocular diseases.

Under the terms of the deal, BlueRock Therapeutics has the exclusive option to license three retinal cell therapy programmes to treat inherited retinal disorders (IRD) and dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics president and CEO Tomoyuki Hasegawa said: “We have collaborated closely with BlueRock Therapeutics to develop a new generation of iPSC-derived cell therapies and we are pleased to grant this license as the next step towards moving the OpCT-001 product into the clinic for the treatment of primary photoreceptor diseases.

“We continue to have a productive partnership with BlueRock Therapeutics and look forward to unlocking the full potential of iPSC technology to create best-in-class cell replacement therapies targeting ocular diseases.”