September 6, 2016

Wayne State University startup acquired by Allergan plc in $60 million deal

DETROIT and ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN and DUBLIN IRELAND – Allergan plc, a leading global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, announced today that it has acquired substantially all of the assets of Wayne State University startup, RetroSense Therapeutics LLC.

RetroSense Therapeutics LLC is a privately held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on novel gene therapy, RST-001, aimed at restoring vision in patients suffering from blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The acquisition by Allergan in a $60 million agreement offers RetroSense potential regulatory and commercialization milestone payments related to its lead development program.

RetroSense has led clinical trials of RST-001 in patients with RP with the goal of restoring some vision in patients with this genetic condition that leads to the progressive degeneration of rod and cone photoreceptors – light-sensing cells found in the retina – resulting in severe vision loss and blindness. Approximately 100,000 people living in the U.S. and 14 to 33 per 100,000 people worldwide have the disorder according the Foundation for Fighting Blindness and the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The technology is a result of several years of research by early pioneers in optogenetics for vision restoration, including Zhuo-Hua Pan, Ph.D, the Edward T. and Ellen K. Dryer Endowed Professor, professor of ophthalmology and anatomy/cell biology, and scientific director of the Ligon Research Center of Vision/Kresge Eye Institute at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine and Richard Masland, Ph.D., at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

“The acquisition of RetroSense’s assets and its RST-001 program by Allergan illustrates the significance of the technology developed by Dr. Pan,” said Joan Dunbar, Ph.D., associate vice president for technology commercialization at Wayne State University. “Without the efforts of Sean Ainsworth, RetroSense’s CEO, this technology would not have been in the clinical trial stages. This important research has tremendous potential to impact the lives of many, and we look forward to the vital work of Allergan that will give ophthalmology professionals around the world improved treatment options that have the potential to improve or even restore vision in RP patients.” To view the full press release from Allergan and RetroSense, visit

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit

About Allergan plc

Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN), headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, is a bold, global pharmaceutical company and a leader in a new industry model – Growth Pharma.  Allergan is focused on developing, manufacturing and commercializing branded pharmaceuticals, devices and biologic products for patients around the world.

Allergan markets a portfolio of leading brands and best-in-class products for the central nervous system, eye care, medical aesthetics and dermatology, gastroenterology, women's health, urology and anti-infective therapeutic categories.

Allergan is an industry leader in Open Science, the Company's R&D model, which defines our approach to identifying and developing game-changing ideas and innovation for better patient care. This approach has led to Allergan building one of the broadest development pipelines in the pharmaceutical industry with 65+ mid-to-late stage pipeline programs in development. Our Company's success is powered by our more than 15,000 global colleagues' commitment to being Bold for Life. Together, we build bridges, power ideas, act fast and drive results for our customers and patients around the world by always doing what it is right.

With commercial operations in approximately 100 countries, Allergan is committed to working with physicians, healthcare providers and patients to deliver innovative and meaningful treatments that help people around the world live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Allergan's website at

About RetroSense Therapeutics

RetroSense Therapeutics is a privately-held biotechnology company developing life-enhancing gene therapies designed to restore vision in patients suffering from blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa and advanced dry age-related macular degeneration. There are currently no FDA-approved drugs to improve or restore vision in patients with these retinal degenerative conditions. The Company's approach to using optogenetics in vision restoration is based on pioneering, proprietary research conducted at Wayne State University and Massachusetts General Hospital. RetroSense has worldwide exclusive rights to the relevant intellectual property from both institutions. RetroSense is led by a team of seasoned veterans with deep experience in taking products from the discovery stage through to the clinic. RetroSense's key investors include BlueWater Angels, Nerveda, Mesa Verde Ventures, Santen Pharmaceuticals, and RBV Capital.


Julie O'Connor
Phone: 313-577-8845

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