Upstart biotech banks $13M for new eye drugs

Backed by a pair of prestigious Harvard investigators and some preclinical ophthalmology assets picked up from Vantia Therapeutics, the U.K.'s KalVista Pharmaceuticals has banked £8 million--$13.2 million--from a startup round provided by two top venture investors. Novo A/S and SV Life Sciences are backing the new company helmed by Andrew Crockett. Crockett had been named Vantia's CEO last year. Now he and the Vantia discovery team will be developing small molecule plasma kallikrein inhibitors for diabetic macular edema at KalVista.

"The exciting discoveries regarding plasma kallikrein inhibition and its potential as a new approach to treating DME have created a significant opportunity," says SV Life Sciences' Graham Boulnois, the chairman of KalVista. "We believe that in KalVista we have put in place all the necessary scientific, clinical and drug discovery and development expertise, and sufficient funding, to capitalize on this opportunity and create a highly differentiated and valuable company."

The biotech will be working with Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello and Dr. Edward P. Feener, KalVista's two scientific founders. Dr. Aiello is professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Joslin's Beetham Eye Institute. Dr Feener is associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an investigator at Joslin.

KalVista says that its preclinical product pipeline targets both intravitreal injection and oral administration routes.

- here's the KalVista release