Bernard Gilly, Ph.D, Co-Founder of GenSight Biologics Discusses the Proprietary Genetic Therapy Cure for Blindness his Company is Developing

October 23, 2018

Bernard Gilly, Ph.D., a Co-Founder of GenSight Biologics, has served as its Chief Executive Officer since its founding. From creation through to 2016, Dr. Gilly served as Chairman of the board of directors. From 2011 through 2014, he served as Chief Executive Officer at Pixium Vision, and from which date, he has served as nonexecutive Chairman of the board of directors. In addition, he currently serves on the boards of Prophesee S.A. — formerly Chronocam — and Gecko Biomedical.

From 2005 to 2009, he founded and was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fovea Pharmaceuticals S.A., or Fovea, a privately funded biotech company, which was later acquired by Sanofi. He then became Senior Vice President of the Ophthalmology Division of Sanofi and served in that role until March 2012.

In this exclusive 2,925 word interview with the Wall Street Transcript, Dr. Bernard Gilly explains the development of his company’s innovative therapies:

“GenSight Biologics is a Paris-based biotechnology company specializing in the development of gene therapy approaches to treat neurodegenerative diseases. We started by focusing on two diseases of the retina: One is called Leber hereditary optic neuropathy, or LHON, and the second one is called retinitis pigmentosa. And the reason why we choose to go for the retina is that the retina is in fact the visible part of our brain.

The retina is a small neural tissue that paves the back of our eye globe, and this is where the first steps of vision are happening, which means that this is where the light is being transformed into an electric signal. And this electric signal is in turn sent to the brain by the retina.”

The process is proprietary:

“…We have invented a process by which, instead of trying to insert the mitochondrion gene into the mitochondrion, we in fact insert the mitochondrion gene in the nucleus of the cell.

There, this mitochondrion DNA is translated into mitochondrion RNA and the messenger RNA by a proprietary sequence that we are adding, and it is then shuttled to the mitochondria, and the protein is internalized inside the mitochondria. This process that we call mitochondrion targeting sequence is proprietary to GenSight and the basis of our GS010 development.

We have an adeno-associated virus vector — AAV — that transports the gene that is defective in LHON called ND4 into the nucleus of the retinal ganglion cells where it will produce the messenger RNA for ND4. So the ND4 protein will be rightly shuttled into the mitochondrion of the retinal ganglion cells and will prevent their degeneration.

We have run various in vitro and in vivo models of this; now, we are largely advanced and have completed a first Phase III.”

Get the full results of the recent treatment trials from GenSight and the future growth potential by reading the entire 2,925 word interview in the Wall Street Transcript.