Glaucoma drug focus inspires $20M A round for Altheos

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The South San Francisco-based startup Altheos has garnered $20 million in Series A cash to push a glaucoma drug program licensed in from Japan's Asahi Kasei Pharma.

That money will be put to use advancing ATS907, a selective Rho-kinase inhibitor billed as part of a new class of drugs for glaucoma. Bay City Capital led the round, joined by a string of new investors including Novo A/S, Canaan Partners, Life Science Angels and Atheneos Capital.

"No therapeutics based upon new mechanisms-of-action have been approved for glaucoma in 15 years.  ATS907 is in a new class of therapies that may provide a much needed alternative for the growing aging population who are most afflicted by the disease," said Henry Hsu, M.D., CEO of Altheos. "The strong interest in the development candidate ATS907 by top investors is a testament to its potential as well as those within the AK138 series which Altheos has licensed."

"ATS907 and related analogues were specifically designed to have properties that make it optimal for ocular administration and with an improved therapeutic index compared to other Rho-kinase inhibitors in development," says Bay City's Lester Kaplan, Ph.D, who is taking the chairman's spot. "The pre-clinical studies indicate important differentiators from existing therapies, both in safety and efficacy." Hsu and M. (Ken) Kengatharan, Ph.D., founded Altheos in 2009.

- here's the Altheos release for more info

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