MOUNT ARLINGTON, N.J., Jan. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- PanOptica, Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company focused on licensing and developing innovative ophthalmology therapies, today announced that it has raised $30 million in a Series A financing. This round was led by SV Life Sciences and Third Rock Ventures.
The completion of Series A financing coincides with the company's successful licensing of exclusive worldwide ophthalmic rights to PAN-90806 from OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas US Holding, Inc., which is part of the Astellas US group of companies (Astellas) in exchange for up-front cash, equity interest in PanOptica, and potential future milestones and royalties. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. PAN-90806 is a pharmacologically unique small-molecule selective inhibitor of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) that shows potential as a topical (eye drop) treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (neovascular AMD).
"We're thrilled to have completed our Series A financing, which enables us to advance PAN-90806 through Phase 2 clinical trials, complete a licensing deal for a second compound and develop it through Phase 2, and select a third asset, which we're actively seeking," said Paul Chaney, co-founder, president, and CEO of PanOptica. "We appreciate the confidence of our financing partners - two of the premier biotechnology venture capital firms - in our industry expertise and our ability to successfully develop a portfolio of innovative therapies."
PanOptica also announced the creation of a board of directors chaired by David Guyer, M.D., founder and former CEO of Eyetech Pharmaceuticals and currently partner of SV Life Sciences. Additional board members include Lutz Giebel, Ph.D., managing partner of SV Life Sciences; Kevin Starr, partner of Third Rock Ventures, and Chaney. Two independent board members will be appointed.
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. PanOptica expects to begin a Phase I clinical trial of PAN-90806 in 2012. The molecule has previously been studied in human trials for oncology indications and has demonstrated a favorable safety, toxicology and pharmacokinetic profile.
"We believe that reducing the treatment burden of anti-VEGF therapy is the next major advance in the treatment of neovascular AMD," said Dr. 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. PanOptica has the experience and capabilities needed to develop this significant breakthrough for ophthalmologists and their patients."
"As a company-building investment firm, we are pleased to support an organization that has such extensive and complementary experience in ophthalmology, bringing together the commercial expertise of Paul Chaney with the scientific acumen of Dr. Martin Wax," said Starr. "We look forward to working with PanOptica to build a portfolio of innovative ophthalmology compounds."
PAN-90806 is a potent and selective inhibitor of VEGF, a protein 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 new blood vessels. In pharmacokinetic studies conducted in rabbits, topical administration of PAN-90806 achieved significant and sustained levels in the retina and choroid, 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. 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.
About SV Life Sciences
SV Life Sciences is a venture capital adviser and manager that invests selectively in businesses across the human life sciences sector, including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, medical devices and instruments, and healthcare information technology and services. SV Life Sciences currently advises or manages five funds with capital commitments of approximately $2 billion primarily in North America and Europe. The firm invests in a broad range of companies focused on ophthalmology, including Lux Biosciences, NeoVista, Neurotech, Ocular Therapeutix and Ophthotech. SV Life Sciences has a team of 32 professionals with diverse, complementary skills and experience that apply to almost any life sciences business. Established in 1993, SV Life Sciences has offices in Boston, San Francisco and London. For additional information, please visit www.svlsa.com.
About Third Rock Ventures
Third Rock Ventures is a venture firm focused on life sciences, investing and launching companies that make a difference in people's lives. Collaborating with entrepreneurs, the Third Rock team applies its deep expertise to establish the roadmap and building blocks for a rapidly growing and highly successful life sciences company. The Third Rock team has a unique vision and experience in building great companies, extensive academic and industry networks and a collective track record for creatively managing the value creation path to deliver exceptional performance. For more information, please visit www.thirdrockventures.com.
PanOptica, Inc. is a private, venture-backed biopharmaceutical company focused on licensing and developing a portfolio of exciting and innovative therapeutics for major ophthalmic diseases. Since its formation in March 2009 with seed financing from SV Life Sciences, PanOptica has identified and evaluated more than 70 assets to determine the feasibility of re-purposing selected leads for ophthalmic indications. The company was co-founded by Paul Chaney, past president of OSI-Eyetech who joined Guyer as COO of Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, and Martin Wax, M.D., a noted academic clinician scientist working in glaucoma, and most recently VP of Research and Development and head of ophthalmology discovery and pre-clinical development at Alcon Labs, Inc. The company seeks early-stage assets translated from other diseases and develops select candidates through human clinical proof of concept. For more information, please visit www.panopticapharma.com.