Newly-hatched PanOptica lands $30M A round for eye drugs

A fledgling biotech company sustained initially by SV Life Sciences and drawing on some deep ophthalmology expertise has tapped a hefty $30 million Series A round designed to fuel its progress into mid-stage studies. Mount Arlington, NJ-based PanOptica went back to the well at SV for the first round, with Third Rock joining in a classic venture play by the Boston fund.

PanOptica also announced this morning that it has in-licensed an experimental anti-VEGF eye treatment from OSI, a division of Astellas, as it pieces together a string of new programs for its pipeline. The new money "enables us to advance PAN-90806 through Phase II clinical trials, complete a licensing deal for a second compound and develop it through Phase II, and select a third asset, which we're actively seeking," said Paul Chaney, co-founder, president, and CEO of PanOptica.

PanOptica is a brainchild of SV's David Guyer, the former Eyetech CEO who joined the fund four years ago after OSI snared the company in a buyout. He turned to Chaney, the former COO at Eyetech, to run the company. And Chaney told Dow Jones back in 2009 that concentrating on pre-clinical ophthalmology drugs would give it a wide range of potential licensing targets. It also probably didn't hurt that he was going back to a familiar group at OSI-Eyetech to strike his first deal.

"We believe that reducing the treatment burden of anti-VEGF therapy is the next major advance in the treatment of neovascular AMD," said Guyer. "Given its unique pharmacological profile, PAN-90806 has the potential to become the first anti-VEGF therapy administered topically by eye drops instead of by intravitreal injection."

This venture round plays on some common themes for SV and Third Rock. It joins a set of industry players who know and trust each other with a substantial amount of money to execute their business plan.

- here's the PanOptica release