Ivantis bags $25M for glaucoma-treating microstent

Ivantis anticipates its glaucoma-treating microstent to receive FDA clearance in 2018.

Ivantis reeled in a $25 million Series C round to advance the development of its glaucoma-treating microstent through commercialization.

Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases affecting the optic nerve that can lead to vision loss or blindness. It is often caused by abnormally high pressure in the eye. The Hydrus Microstent relieves this pressure by restoring natural outflow of built-up fluids in the eye. About the size of an eyelash, it is implanted through a minimally invasive procedure.

The device is being evaluated in a U.S. pivotal trial in glaucoma patients undergoing cataract surgery. However, the Hydrus is being used as a standalone treatment as well as in cataract surgery outside the U.S.

Ivantis will have to compete with Glaukos, which got the FDA nod for its glaucoma-treating iStent in 2012. While Glaukos’ microstent is indicated for use alongside cataract surgery, the devicemaker reported study results last month showing the implant lowered eye pressure in glaucoma patients who received it in a standalone procedure. Meanwhile, the FDA cleared Allergan’s Xen45 gel stent and injector combo, which the pharma picked up in its $300 million buyout of AqueSys.

"A key competitive advantage is that the [Hydrus] device is targeted to Schlemm's canal, the region of the eye all physicians we spoke with said they prefer to work in,” said Peter Kolchinsky of RA Capital Management, which led the round. “The procedure is so straightforward that we believe it could even be performed independently of cataract surgery, essentially marrying the durable efficacy of an implanted device with the ubiquity of laser. Millions of patients around the world stand to benefit."

New investor Mérieux Développement and existing backers joined RA Capital Management in the Series C. The financing will drive Ivantis into 2020 and will fuel the U.S. market rollout of the device once it earns FDA approval, anticipated in 2018, according to the statement. Ivantis previously raised $71 million in its Series B.