Funding to Support Further Development of Innovative Dry Eye Compound
BRISBANE, Calif., July 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- SARcode Bioscience, Inc., a privately-held biopharmaceutical company, announced today the completion of a $44 million Series B private equity financing. The financing round was led by Sofinnova Ventures and was augmented by the additional backing of Rho Ventures and existing investors Alta Partners and Clarus Venture Partners.
"We believe that SARcode is uniquely positioned to make significant breakthroughs in the treatment of dry eye that could improve therapeutic options for millions of patients," commented Garheng Kong, General Partner of Sofinnova Ventures. "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," Kong added. "We have been impressed by the broad ophthalmic product development and marketing experience of the SARcode executive team and look forward to working with them and the investor syndicate as the company's lead dry eye program moves into Phase 3 clinical trials," said Martin Vogelbaum, Partner at Rho Ventures.
Proceeds from the Series B financing will largely support further clinical development of SAR 1118, SARcode's lead compound for the treatment of dry eye syndrome. SAR 1118 is a first-in-class, topical small-molecule integrin antagonist that inhibits T-cell mediated inflammation, a key component of dry eye. In a Phase 2 randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 230 subjects with dry eye disease, SAR 1118 demonstrated an improvement in corneal staining at 12 weeks and an increase in tear production as early as 2 weeks. In addition, subjects receiving SAR 1118 reported dose-dependent improvements in visual-related function at 12 weeks, which included the ability to read, drive at night, use a computer and watch television. SAR 1118 was well tolerated. Ocular adverse events were mostly mild, transient and related to initial instillation of the drug. SARcode plans to initiate pivotal Phase 3 clinical studies with SAR 1118 in the second half of 2011.
"We are extremely pleased with this financing, and are grateful for the confidence and trust from such renowned life-science investors," said Quinton Oswald, Chief Executive Officer of SARcode Bioscience. "In the US alone, the current dry eye market potential is over $1 billion. 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. There is clearly a large opportunity to develop therapeutic agents that can rapidly treat the signs of dry eye and improve symptomatic visual-related quality-of-life. With the support of our investors, we look forward to bringing this novel dry eye therapy to the market."
About Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a prevalent and often chronic condition estimated to affect approximately 20 million people in the US. It is among the most common diseases treated by ophthalmologists throughout the world, and has been shown to have a significant impact upon quality of life. Dry eye varies in severity and etiology, and symptoms most commonly manifest as discomfort, visual disturbances, and tear film instability due to decreased quality or quantity of tears. A major contributing factor towards the development of dry eye is inflammation caused by T-cell infiltration, proliferation and inflammatory cytokine production that can lead to reduction in tear film quality and ocular surface damage.
About SAR 1118
SAR 1118 is a potent novel small molecule lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1; CD11a/CD18) antagonist under investigation for a broad range of ocular inflammatory conditions including dry eye and diabetic macular edema. LFA-1 is member of the integrin family of adhesion receptors found on the surface of all leukocytes and represents a therapeutic target central to a number of inflammatory stimuli. SAR 1118 has demonstrated potency in blocking LFA-1 binding to its cognate ligand, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1; CD54), thereby inhibiting cell adhesion, cytokine production, and cellular proliferation in in vitro models. In a Phase 2 trial, SAR 1118 demonstrated dose-dependent improvements in both signs and symptoms of dry eye.
About SARcode Bioscience
SARcode Bioscience, Inc., founded in 2006, is a venture-backed ophthalmic biopharmaceutical company based in Brisbane, CA. SARcode's lead development program is a novel class of lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-1) antagonists for the treatment T-cell mediated inflammatory diseases. Institutional investors include Alta Partners, Clarus Venture Partners, Rho Ventures and Sofinnova Ventures. www.sarcode.com.
About Sofinnova Ventures
Sofinnova Ventures has over 30 years of experience building life science corporate spin-outs and start-ups into market leaders. With $1 billion under management, the firm applies capital and expertise to guide companies to successful exits. Sofinnova's team of MDs and PhDs has significant scientific, operational and strategic experience, specializing in financing later stage clinical compounds. Sofinnova has offices in Menlo Park and La Jolla, California. www.sofinnova.com.
About Rho Ventures
Rho Ventures has a multi-stage investing strategy focused on high-growth companies in large markets. Rho Ventures' investments span new media, healthcare, IT, communications, energy technology and other disruptive technologies. Rho Ventures brings nearly 30 years of venture experience, combined with its partners' deep sector expertise and its far-reaching network to assist each portfolio company. Rho Ventures is currently investing from Rho Ventures VI, a $510 million fund. The firm has offices in Palo Alto, Calif., New York and Montreal, with investments across the globe. www.rho.com.