AsclepiX Therapeutics announced that it has raised $5 million in convertible note funding to accelerate development of AXT107, its treatment for two leading causes of adult blindness: diabetic macular edema (DME) and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These diseases are now treated with drugs that inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), which must be injected in the eye monthly for several months, with dosing adjusted thereafter based on response.
“With an exciting, novel mechanism of action, engineered on a backbone of naturally occurring peptide inhibitors of vascular neogenesis that both inhibit the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A)1and activate Tie2, AsclepiX’s lead therapeutic, AXT107, may be a more efficacious therapy that helps preserve vision for people with DME and wet AMD – with fewer injections,” AsclepiX CEO Wendy Perrow said in a company news release. “In extensive animal testing, AXT107 was safe and superior to current approved therapies in preventing and even reversing progressive pathologic changes in the retina with just two to three injections per year, a clear benefit in longer duration and less frequent dosing compared to those currently approved therapies. The new funding will allow completion of the investigational new drug (IND) application for AXT107 and planning of phase 1 / phase 2 clinical studies for subjects with DME followed by subjects with wet AMD.”
The funding was led by Barer & Son Capital with additional funds from Rapha Capital Management, Salem Partners, TEDCO, and Piedmont Capital Partners. In concert with the funding, AsclepiX expanded its board to add Josh Barer, Kevin Slawin, MD, and Sapna Srivastava, PhD, to the founding members Aleksander Popel, PhD and Jordan J. Green, PhD and CEO Wendy Perrow, MBA.
Josh Barer, managing partner at Barer & Son Capital, said that AsclepiX is poised to fulfill a strong demand for better ocular disease therapies.
“The $10 billion worldwide market for anti-VEGF drugs is growing. In the U.S. alone, the number of people with DME and wet AMD is expected to reach 7 million by 2020.2 We’re excited to invest in AsclepiX and help the company’s agile, experienced leadership team develop this unique platform into a category-leading drug therapy for millions of patients.” Kevin Slawin, MD managing partner at Rapha Capital Management, said in the news release. “Vision loss is a devastating complication of several common diseases, including diabetes. We’re excited at the potential of AXT107 to help millions avoid this difficult disability while requiring less frequent therapeutic interventions by their ophthalmologists.”
The convertible note financing brings the total funding for AsclepiX to $16 million, including $11 million in non-dilutive funding previously received from the National Eye Institute, National Cancer Institute, TEDCO, and others.
- Lima e Silva, R., Kanan Y, Mirando AC, et al. Tyrosine kinase blocking collagen IV-derived peptide suppresses ocular neovascularization and vascular leakage. Sci Transl Med. 2017 Jan 18;9(373).
- Market Scope ophthalmic industry report