Eye disease biotech Orasis Pharmaceuticals nabs $30M for phase 3, sales activities

A year after a positive readout and two years since its series B round, Orasis Pharmaceuticals has raised a further $30 million.

The Israeli biotech will put the cash to use for late-stage tests of its eye drop candidate for the treatment of presbyopia symptoms, a disorder causing long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, occurring typically in middle and old age and affecting nearly 2 billion worldwide.

This therapy came through a phase 2b trial last October, and the biotech will now push into phase 3 and, it hopes, to an approval. “The funds will also be used for pre-commercialization activities ahead of potential product launch,” it said in a statement.

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Its drug, a repurposed molecule known as a CSF-1 eye drop, saw statistically significant improvement in distance-corrected near visual acuity of a 3-line or greater gain in the midstage trial.

Most of the 2 billion people with the disorder simply use glasses, though the biotech, as biotechs do, is hoping to drug the problem to remove the need for them. It has rivals, however, including AbbVie through its recent buyout of Allergan, which is also putting a therapy through phase 3.

The financing was co-led by new investor Bluestem Capital and returning investor Visionary Ventures, with participation from other returning investors Sequoia Capital, SBI (Japan) Innovation Fund, Maverick Ventures Israel, LifeSci Venture Partners and additional investors.

“This successful funding round completes the capitalization for the Phase 3 clinical trials and fuels the initial growth strategy for commercialization,” said Elad Kedar, chief of Orasis.

“We aspire to make near vision clear again for people with presbyopia by empowering them with an unparalleled solution, an eye drop that will provide them with comfort and control of their near vision. Our product candidate has demonstrated excellent efficacy, safety and comfort profiles in previous clinical studies and we look forward to initiating our phase 3 clinical trials to further evaluate the effectiveness of the product in the near future.”

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