RALEIGH – Opus Genetics, launched earlier this year with $19 million in invested capital, has signed an agreement to license its third preclinical program from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, which the company noted in a statement is the primary teaching hospital at Harvard Ophthalmology.

The preclinical trial will address “mutations in the NMNAT1 gene, which cause a specific form of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA),” the company statement reads.  The program, OPGx-003, is based on the work of Dr. Eric Pierce, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Ocular Genomics Institute and William F. Chatlos professor of ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School, who is also the scientific co-founder of the company and holds an equity position of ownership in the company.

The company noted in its statement that it expects to file an IND for OPGx-003 in the first half of 2023.

Opus Genetics, launching from Raleigh-based Retinal Degeneration Fund, raises $19M

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Dr. Pierce, who will bring his expertise in retinal gene therapy to researching a novel treatment of NMNAT1-associated retinal degeneration,” said Ash Jayagopal, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Opus Genetics in a statement. “Adding OPGx-003 to the Opus pipeline further underscores our commitment to bringing the required resources and expertise together to take promising science from the lab through the clinic and ultimately to patients who need it, and reinforces the importance of our innovative patient-focused model.”

The company hired Jayagopal and COO Joe Schachle in October.

Its lead program, OPGx-001, addresses mutations in the LCA5 gene and the company’s second program, OPGx-002, focuses on restoring protein expression and “halting functional deterioration in patients with retinal dystrophy caused by mutations” in the retinal dehydrogenase gene, LCA13.