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CAMBRIDGE, England—Exonate, an early stage biotechnology company based here, said Monday that it has entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson, that will work toward developing an eye drop treatment for retinal vascular diseases, such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO). The effort will focus on using mRNA targeted therapies. The agreement was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Exonate has developed small molecules that inhibit the production of pro-angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) through the selective inhibition of serine/threonine-protein kinase (SRPK1)-mediated VEGF splicing, according to the announcement.

“By applying our two companies’ expertise, this treatment has the potential to transform the lives of patients with retinal vascular diseases and those suffering from vision loss,” said James List, MD, global therapeutic area head, cardiovascular & metabolism, Janssen Research & Development.

"I am absolutely delighted to enter this strategic collaboration with Janssen,” added Exonate chief executive officer Dr. Catherine Beech. “We are looking forward to successfully developing a novel treatment for retinal neovascular diseases.”

Exonate is a privately held biotech company spun out of the University of Nottingham and it is focused on alternative splicing of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in ophthalmology.