By Greg Kunst, CEO
Today we are pleased to launch Aurion Biotech, an exciting company with a bold mission: to develop a transformational platform of advanced therapies to cure blindness.
I’m not the kind of person who enjoys being the center of attention, but sharing my story will, I hope, help people understand just how exciting and transformational is our story of Aurion Biotech.
I’m an entrepreneur and a ‘builder’ at heart; I have boundless curiosity, and I like new challenges. I grew up in the polyglot of the San Francisco Bay Area. College, grad school and work have enabled me to live in Utah, France, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas and now, Washington. Like many kids influenced by the careers of their parents, I came to ophthalmology by osmosis: my dad had a successful career in this industry. My earliest memories are of him and his colleagues and the joy they exuded in doing good work that was also doing good for others. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by diseases of the eye.
That early influence guided me to fantastic opportunities at CooperVision, Acelity, Alcon and most recently at Glaukos. Along the way, I’ve participated in the excitement of discovering and developing ground-breaking innovations, and I’ve had a central role in introducing multiple products to market that improve peoples’ lives. I realize how lucky I am.
When I learned about Aurion Biotech, I knew I wanted to be a part of this exciting story. Our parent company, CorneaGen, is admired throughout our industry for its innovations in cornea care. Last year, it in-licensed a novel cell therapy to treat corneal endothelial dystrophies, which was developed by one of the world’s most eminent scientists and researchers in ophthalmology, Professor Shigeru Kinoshita, and his distinguished colleagues at Kyoto Prefecture University of Medicine. To devote dedicated resources to further developing this product, CorneaGen established Aurion Biotech, which brings us to today’s launch news.
The name, Aurion, means “tomorrow” in Greek; we chose this name because it’s our hope that our innovations in advanced therapies will bring better tomorrows to patients suffering from blindness.
Our cell therapy procedure is one of the first clinically validated cell therapies in ophthalmology. While endothelial keratoplasties are well established as the standard of care for corneal endothelial disease, the limited availability of corneal tissue worldwide remains a huge challenge. With our corneal endothelial cell therapy, the cells from a single donor can be multiplied to treat up to 100 diseased eyes.
The success of this procedure in patients has already been documented in Professor Kinoshita’s scholarly contributions to New England Journal of Medicine, and to AAO Journal. We are honored and excited to continue clinical development here in the US (and the rest of the world).
And we are moving fast! Over the months to come, we will share more exciting milestones about Aurion Biotech. I hope you’ll be a part of our exciting story, as it unfolds.