InnFocus raises $33M to back pivotal trial for glaucoma microshunt

InnFocus has nabbed a pair of strategic ophthalmic investors in its Series C financing for $32.8 million. The cash infusion will go to the final phase of clinical testing for the startup's MicroShunt, which is expected to be a minimally invasive alternative to surgery for primary open angle glaucoma.

Existing investor ophthalmic player Hoya as well as Saint Capital Everest participated in the financing, as did new investors ophthalmic company Santen Pharmaceutical and Crown Venture Fund.

"The money raised will help the Company complete the final phase of our FDA trial," said InnFocus President and CEO Russ Trenary in a statement. "We are also very pleased that two of our Series C investors are large ophthalmic companies, which we believe is another validation of the potential of our technology."

The InnFocus MicroShunt on a fingertip.--Courtesy InnFocus

The InnFocus MicroShunt is currently in a prospective, randomized study that compares it to a trabeculectomy procedure, which has been the standard-of-care for glaucoma treatment for about 50 years, the company said. The trial is expected to enroll more than 850 patients with mild, moderate, and severe glaucoma. It started in June 2013 and is slated to have final primary endpoint data in June 2018.

In existing data for the MicroShunt, patients have had a mean reduction of intraocular pressure to 15 mmHg from about 25 mmHg. Pressures below 15 mmHg reduce the risk for optic nerve damage and subsequent vision loss, the company noted. The shunt has already been tested in 100 patients in the U.S., as well as in more than 200 ex-U.S. patients.

The MicroShunt is about twice the size of an eyelash. It was developed in collaboration with the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute that is part of the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. It is made of proprietary biomaterial that the company said is an "insignificant" cause of inflammation. It is implanted in the inflow end in the anterior chamber of the eye at the angle and the outflow end under the conjunctiva.

The MicroShunt gained a CE mark in 2012. Founded in 2003, Miami, FL-based InnFocus previously had raised about $15.5 million, according to SEC filings.

- here is the announcement