Oculis announced that it has successfully raised a further 15.5 million Swiss Franc ($15.7 million) in an extension of its Series B financing round, announced in January 2018, bringing the total raised to 35.5 million Swiss Franc. The extension round was led by funds managed by Tekla Capital Management LLC and included Nan Fung Life Sciences, both new investors, as well as Oculis’ current investors.
The funds will be used to expand the company’s portfolio through strategic in-licensing, and to advance the development of its emerging pipeline of novel topical (eye drop) treatments for major ophthalmic diseases. Key among its clinical candidates is OCS-01 (formerly OC-118), currently in clinical trials in patients with diabetic macular edema (DME) and in preparation to enter clinical development for post-surgery ocular inflammation.
Oculis will also use the funds to develop its newly in-licensed asset LME636 from Novartis, a topical anti-TNF alpha antibody. Efficacy and safety of LME636 (to be renamed OCS-02) have been evaluated in three clinical trials including controlled studies under IND by Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research. The studies demonstrated a promising profile for treating inflammatory conditions of the anterior segment of the eye, including dry eye disease and offers Oculis the opportunity to address unmet medical needs of patients with potentially the first topical anti-TNF alpha therapy for ophthalmic indications.
In conjunction with this fundraising, Henry Skinner, PhD, Senior Vice President at Tekla Capital Management, is joining the Oculis Board of Directors as a Non-Executive Director. Dr. Skinner was formerly Managing Director at Novartis Venture Fund and Executive Director, Head Strategic Alliances at Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research. Prior to this, Dr. Skinner was CEO at SelectX Pharmaceuticals, President and CEO at NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals, and also spent 4 years at Pfizer in its Technology Acquisitions and Operations group.
At the same time, Stefan J. Sveinsson has stepped down from the Board of Directors.
“Oculis is evolving and advancing rapidly. With this new fundraising, adding to the CHF20 million we raised a year ago, we have a strong financial position from which to drive our clinical development programs with OCS-01 and LME636/OCS-02 and to advance our portfolio of innovative candidates designed to address serious ophthalmic indications. We welcome our new investors and are delighted with the continued support of our existing investors as we execute our strategy to build a world-class ophthalmic company,” Dr. Riad Sherif, Chief Executive Officer of Oculis, said in a company news release.