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Ocugen CEO Musunuri On Gene Therapy Candidates, The Omicron Advantage

Phase I Trials For OCU-400 Set For Q1 2022

Executive Summary

Ocugen’s mutation-agnostic candidate for retinitis pigmentosa and leber congenital amaurosis is set for Phase I trials in the US. In this exclusive audio interview, founder and CEO Shankar Musunuri speaks to Scrip about seeking partners beyond CanSino Biologics for the candidate while stressing Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine could hold promise against the Omicron variant.

The formation of any company involves blood, sweat and tears and the story has been no different for Ocugen Inc.

In an audio interview with Scrip, founder-CEO Shankar Musunuri gives us a glimpse of the journey and shares his excitement about two gene therapy candidates for eye diseases.

OCU-400, a candidate to treat retinitis pigmentosa and a rare genetic eye disorder, leber congenital amaurosis, will soon be heading to the clinic for human trials. OCU-410 for age-related macular degeneration is still in the preclinical stage but has a larger canvas, with the disease being a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness throughout the world.

The company has tied up with Chinese firm CanSino Biologics Inc. for developing these two candidates and Musunuri shares further commercialization plans.

Meanwhile, he emphasizes the good intentions behind trying to bring Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin to the US and Canada. The broad immunity it has demonstrated against variants like Delta and could potentially show against Omicron might give it an edge over Pfizer Inc. and Moderna, Inc.’s mRNA vaccines, Musunuri feels.

However, what does a clinical trial hold by the US Food and Drug Administration and a delay in filing for emergency use authorization in Canada mean for the vaccine and company? Find out in this podcast.

Time Stamps

0:11 Introduction

2:17 Advice for aspiring start-ups

3:55 Memorable and forgettable parts of entrepreneurship journey

7:38 Stressors and boosters

9:19 Way forward for COVID-19 vaccine post clinical hold

15:20 Will Pfizer beat Ocugen to the 2-5 age group?

16:38 Does the Omicron variant complicate matters?

22:37 Possibility of a booster

28:02 US class action suit

28:53 Mutation-agnostic gene therapy platform

36:18 CanSino Biologics’ agreement for OCU-400 and OCU-410

39:17 Risks in gene therapy development


Interview with Ocugen Founder-CEO Shankar Musunuri

This and all our other podcasts are available on the Informa Pharma Intelligence channel on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSoundCloudTuneIn and Spotify Podcasts, and via smart speakers if one of these platforms has been set up as your default podcast provider.  

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