SARcode banks $44M round for late-stage dry eye study

Brisbane, CA-based SARcode Bioscience has rounded up a sizeable $44 million B round from some A-list venture backers, giving the developer the bankroll it needs to push its lead program into a late-stage study for dry eye syndrome. Sofinnova Ventures led the round, which was augmented by Rho Ventures and included its existing investors Alta Partners and Clarus Venture Partners.

SARcode's lead drug is SAR 1118, a topical small molecule integrin antagonist that reportedly inhibits T-cell mediated inflammation. The biotech says that in a mid-stage study the treatment demonstrated an improvement in corneal staining at 12 weeks and greater tear production in some patients as early as two weeks, with subjects reporting an improvement in vision for night driving as well as using a computer and watching television.

"In the U.S. alone, the current dry eye market potential is over $1 billion," said CEO Quinton Oswald, a Genentech veteran recruited to run the company last year. "This is expected to grow substantially in the next decade due to an aging population and increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, both of which contribute to higher rates of dry eye disease."

"SARcode's proprietary compound has demonstrated the ability to alleviate both the signs and symptoms of dry eye by directly targeting the inflammatory origin of this debilitating disease," said Garheng Kong, a general partner of Sofinnova Ventures.

- here's the SARcode release