Ann Arbor-based RetroSense, a private, clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on novel gene therapy approaches to restore vision in patients suffering from blindness, was acquired by leading global pharmaceutical company Allergan for $60 million. The acquisition will further the commercialization of RetroSense’s RST-001, a novel gene therapy for the potential treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). 

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 2.10.58 PMThis news comes on the heels of RetroSense securing FDA approval for human clinical studies of its therapy for one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness. In January, the company raised a $6 million Series A, including investment from outside of Michigan.

Ann Arbor SPARK has provided support to RetroSense since 2010, including investment through the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. The funding RetroSense received from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, which is supported by the 21st Century Jobs Fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corp., was the first outside equity raised by the company and was a match to the grant it received from the National Institutes of Health. 

“Investment from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund allowed RetroSense to meet key milestones the led to additional outside investment,” said Skip Simms, Ann Arbor SPARK senior vice president and Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund manager. “The company’s further success and acquisition by Allergan enabled it to return the pre-seed investment to the Fund — the largest ever return. RetroSense clearly illustrates the importance of the state and public sector in nurturing startups.” 

In addition to Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund support, Ann Arbor SPARK provided RetroSense grants for pre-clinical and clinical trial planning, corporate identity, branding, and website, and study design and validation. RetroSense was a client at SPARK’s accelerator, which is funded by the by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone (LDFA), since 2012. Recently, the company was able to complete market research through SPARK’s internship program.

Source: SPARK