Piximune founder recognized for pioneering ophthalmology research

Daniel R. Saban, Ph.D., founder and chief scientific officer of Duke University spinout Piximune Therapeutics was honored with the 2024 Cogan Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the world’s largest association of eye and vision researchers. 

Piximune Therapeutics

The Cogan Award recognizes young researchers making substantial contributions to the fields of ophthalmology or visual science. Saban, also a professor of ophthalmology and immunology at Duke School of Medicine, has made key discoveries about the role of immune cells in tissue physiology and disease resilience. Durham-based Piximune Therapeutics was founded in 2023 to turn these insights into antibody-based treatments for several inherited retinal diseases and a late-stage form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Daniel R. Saban receives 2024 Cogan Award
Daniel R. Saban receives 2024 Cogan Award. 
-Photo from Piximune

Last year, Piximune received a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to develop a monoclonal antibody therapy for advanced dry AMD. This support has helped the company identify multiple antibodies that might be used to target an immune mechanism believed to provide neuroprotection against vision loss in this disease. 

“This prestigious award recognizes Dr. Saban’s groundbreaking research on the biological mechanisms that contribute to ophthalmic disease and vision loss,” said Kathy Meserve, senior director of investments at NCBiotech. “Innovative therapeutics based on this research could one day help preserve and perhaps restore vision for countless patients."

During the 2024 ARVO Annual Meeting in Seattle, Saban delivered the Cogan Award Lecture “Immune cells: The Unseen Guardians of Ocular Health and Disease Resilience.” He spoke about his lab's discovery of the crucial role of immune cells in the healthy functioning of the retina and other parts of the eye and how this is being used to develop new therapies.

Piximune has demonstrated an antibody-based treatment approach in mice and is now working to raise funds to expand its team and support additional preclinical studies. It anticipates moving its first program into clinical trials in 2025.

Read more here: ARVO 2024: Daniel Saban, PhD, Cogan Award Lecture recipient, discusses lecture and meaning of award

Nancy Lamontagne, NCBiotech writer
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