BERNARDSVILLE, N.J. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- PanOptica, Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company focused on licensing and developing innovative ophthalmology therapies, today announced that it has raised up to $45 million in a Series B financing to fund the clinical program for its lead compound, PAN-90806, a pharmacologically unique small-molecule selective inhibitor of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) signaling being investigated as a topical (eye drop) treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (neovascular AMD).
New participant Novo Ventures and existing investor Third Rock Ventures co-led this round of financing, which also included founding investor SV Life Sciences.
“We feel PanOptica has the right mix of proven medical, regulatory and commercial capabilities in its management team and expect that this compound will be a valuable addition to the AMD marketplace,” said Thomas Dyrberg, M.D., DMSc., Senior Partner at Novo Ventures. “We are excited to join PanOptica in its efforts to develop and commercialize PAN-90806.”
PanOptica also announced it has dosed the first patient in its Phase 1 clinical trial for PAN-90806 less than one month after the Company received FDA clearance for its investigational new drug (IND) application. The Phase 1 trial is a two-month, open-label study in approximately 30 patients at 15 to 20 clinical sites around the United States. The trial is designed to assess the safety and tolerability of topical ocular PAN-90806 at three dosage strengths in patients with active, subfoveal choroidal neovascularization associated with neovascular AMD. PanOptica expects data readout by the end of 2014.
“PanOptica has made significant progress in the first quarter of the year and is poised to make the transition to a development stage company,” said Kevin Starr, Partner at Third Rock Ventures. “We are pleased that our continued support of PAN-90806 is a driving force in getting this treatment to patients who suffer from this debilitating disease.”
Anti-VEGF therapy is the standard of care for neovascular AMD, but existing treatments require regular physician-administered injections into the eye. An eye-drop formulation has the potential to lower the risk of injection-related complications and significantly reduce the burden on patients, their families and ophthalmology practices.
“Any reduction of the treatment burden of anti-VEGF therapies would be a major advance in the treatment of neovascular AMD,” said Jay S. Duker, M.D., Director of the New England Eye Center and Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine. “An anti-VEGF therapy that could be administered topically by eye drops instead of by injection would be a welcome addition to any retinal specialist’s treatment regimen.”
PAN-90806 is a potent and selective inhibitor of VEGF signaling, a growth factor pathway that plays a critical role in angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and increased permeability (leakage from blood vessels), two pathological processes that contribute to the vision loss associated with neovascular AMD. In pre-clinical research using ocular angiogenesis models, topically administered PAN-90806 suppressed the formation of abnormal new blood vessels. In non-clinical pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies topical administration of PAN-90806 achieved significant and sustained levels in the retina and choroid, and demonstrated the ability to suppress abnormal choroidal and retinal neovascularization in animal models, supporting further investigation of PAN-90806.
AMD is a chronic, progressive disease of the central portion of the retina called the macula, resulting in the loss of central vision necessary to read, drive, and perform other key tasks of daily life necessary to maintain independence. The most common symptoms are a central blurred or blank spot, distortion of objects or simply blurred vision. Peripheral vision usually remains intact. AMD is classified into two forms: atrophic, referred to as dry AMD, and neovascular or wet AMD.
In neovascular AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow and leak into the macula, resulting in loss of vision. Neovascular AMD is the more severe form of the disease and progresses more rapidly than the dry type. Although it accounts for only about 10-15 percent of all macular degeneration cases, neovascular AMD affects two million Americans and is responsible for 90 percent of blindness caused by the disease. It is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss in the developed world.
About Third Rock Ventures
Third Rock Ventures is a leading healthcare venture firm focused on investing and launching companies that make a difference in people’s lives. The Third Rock team has a unique vision for ideating and building transformative healthcare companies. Working closely with our strategic partners and entrepreneurs, Third Rock has an extensive track record for managing the value creation path to deliver exceptional performance. For more information, please visit the firm’s website at www.thirdrockventures.com.
About Novo Ventures
Novo A/S is a Danish limited liability company fully owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and is the holding company in the Novo Group responsible for managing the Foundation's assets, which are currently valued at more than USD 30 billion. Besides being the major shareholder in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, Novo A/S provides seed and venture capital to development stage companies, and takes significant ownership positions in well-established companies within life sciences, and manages a broad portfolio of financial assets. For more information, visit: www.novo.dk
About SV Life Sciences
SVLS affiliated funds have been investing in life sciences companies since the early 1980s and the firm closed its first dedicated life sciences fund in 1994. The SVLS team manages five private venture capital funds with approximately $1.9 billion of capital under management. The firm employs a diversified strategy within life sciences in order to selectively capitalize on an expanding opportunity in biotech, medical devices and health-care services. SVLS has offices in Boston, London and San Francisco. For more information, visit: www.svlsa.com
PanOptica, Inc. was co-founded by Paul Chaney, past president of OSI Eyetech, and Martin Wax, M.D., former vice president of R&D and head of discovery research and preclinical sciences at Alcon. In early 2009, PanOptica officially began operating as a venture-backed private biopharmaceutical company with seed financing from SV Life Sciences.
Since then, guided by the deep and complementary experience of its founders, PanOptica has identified and evaluated more than 200 biopharmaceutical assets with the goal of licensing and developing a portfolio of exciting and innovative therapeutics for major ophthalmic disease. In early 2011, PanOptica announced that it had raised up to $30 million in a Series A financing, led by SV Life Sciences and Third Rock Ventures. For more information, please visit www.panopticapharma.com.