With fresh new funding, a Fort Worth-based biopharmaceutical firm aims to develop “breakthrough” treatments for an array of serious eye diseases.
Nacuity Pharmaceuticals, which focuses on ocular diseases caused by oxidative stress, announced landing a $16.5 million Series B funding round led by the Foundation Fighting Blindness to fuel clinical trials for two drugs in its pipeline.
“This funding will help further our mission to develop a breakthrough treatment for retinitis pigmentosa and other serious blinding and chronic diseases,” said Halden Conner, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Nacuity, in a statement.
Funding through ‘proof of concept’
Nacuity said the funding will help advance its NPI-001 and NPI-002 therapies “through proof of concept.” Currently in Phase I/II clinical trials, NPI-001 is a tablet used to treat retinitis pigmentosa associated with Usher syndrome—a condition that eventually breaks down the retina over time. Also in Phase I/II clinical trials, NPI-002 is an implant placed in the back of the eye that releases antioxidant molecules designed to slow the progression of cataracts.
“Retinitis pigmentosa affects approximately 1.5 million people worldwide and the majority of patients are legally blind by age 40,” said Benjamin Yerxa, CEO at Foundation Fighting Blindness, in a statement.
The announcement comes as Nacuity expanded its scientific advisory board earlier this month, adding Dr. Nancy Holekamp, the director of retina services at Pepose Vision Institute, and Dr. Richard Lindstrom, founder and attending surgeon emeritus at Minnesota Eye Consultants.
Trials could lead to more applications
Founded in 2016, Nacuity’s technology is based on lab studies by Dr. Peter Campochiaro at Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Wilmer Eye Institute, which looked at oxidative stress in the retina—the cause of conditions and diseases including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
Based on past SEC filings, Nacuity has previously raised more than $11 million. The new funding included the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ venture arm RD Fund, as well as existing backers.
Nacuity expects the results from the trials to be available in the second quarter of next year. Conner also told The Dallas Morning News that if the treatments are successful, they could have applications for patients with other types of diseases and conditions caused by oxidative stress.
“Nacuity seeks to expand the science and clinical potential for prescription products addressing diseases and conditions involving oxidative stress,” the company states on its website. “This largely unaddressed disease mechanism is potentially a key factor in maladies ranging from ophthalmic diseases and conditions, both rare and prevalent, to many serious non-ophthalmic diseases and conditions associated with aging, neurodegeneration, and cellular dysfunction.”
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