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o2h Ventures portfolio company Exonate Announces a Collaboration with Janssen to develop a new eye drop for the treatment of retinal vascular diseases, including wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO)

The program, facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, has the potential to improve the treatment of patients with retinal vascular diseases and transform the lives of those suffering from vision loss.

Cambridge, UK, 13 January, 2020: Exonate, an early stage biotechnology company, announced today that it has entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Through the collaboration, Exonate will work with Janssen Research & Development, LLC scientists to develop an eye drop treatment for retinal vascular diseases such as wet AMD and DMO by using mRNA targeted therapies. 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. The agreement was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Exonate first received Seed funding in 2014 from investors including o2h Ventures founders when Exonate was formed in 2014 based on IP from Nottingham and Bristol University. Sunil Shah was then appointed Chairman of Exonate Limited. In 2017 Exonate received a convertible loan from the Wellcome Trust for £4.9M and in early 2019 o2h Ventures targeted Exonate for its first investment from their EIS fund.

Sunil Shah, Chairman of Exonate and Fund Manager of o2h Ventures EIS therapeutics fund, commented, “We are thrilled that Janssen has decided to enter this significant collaboration with Exonate to support the development of its programme. The deal terms have not been disclosed, however, Johnson and Johnson have recognised the disruptive nature of the Exonate technology and have been very pragmatic and fair throughout the transaction.

This deal demonstrates the funds hypothesis that early stage investors into biotech therapeutics are able to benefit from the global shift in big pharma seeking to access innovation early; the Exonate programme is still in the pre-clinical phase. The success of Exonate is no small part due to the CEO, Dr Catherine Beech OBE and CSO, Dr David Bates and I extend my sincere thanks to the whole team”.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Catherine Beech CEO of Exonate, said: “I am absolutely delighted to enter this strategic collaboration with Janssen, we are looking forward to successfully developing a novel treatment for retinal neovascular diseases. o2h Ventures have developed a supportive ecosystem to support early stage investing into biotech therapeutics and their support and input is greatly appreciated.”


About Exonate

Exonate is a privately held, early stage, biotech company spun out of the University of Nottingham that is focused on alternative splicing of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in ophthalmology. Exonate’s lead programme is focused on Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO). A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DMO, is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula and wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 and older. The Company is founded on scientific excellence with strong links to Professor David Bates and his lab at Nottingham University specializing in the biology and biochemical pathways of VEGF splice variants.


Exonate Limited
Sarah Buchallet, Marketing

About o2h Ventures

o2h Ventures Limited has launched the o2h therapeutics and AI fund which is the first S/EIS fund in the UK solely focused on early stage biotech therapeutics and related AI opportunities. The geographic scope shall be UK wide including Oxford and London but will target the growing Cambridge biotech cluster. The Fund is structured to be S/EIS compliant providing tax breaks for UK taxpayers.

The biotech sector is one of the leading sectors in the UK economy. The large pharma companies now rely on the small innovative biotech’s for new ideas in disease areas such as cancer, genomics, anti-ageing and neurosciences amongst others which has led to higher potential exit valuations. The Fund will widen the community of investors that will help expand early stage research in the UK.

For more information, please visit

About o2h group

The o2h group team are leaders in the biotech community and have been actively involved as investors, holding various board/industry positions as well as being engaged in grassroots scientific activity for over 20 years. o2h group operate from their proprietary 2.7 acre Mill SciTech Park where they are developing a unique model for incubating small life science companies.

For more information, please visit


Ajit Singh
Marketing Manager, o2h group

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