Okogen, a developer of ophthalmic anti-infective drugs, announced $10 million in Series A funding from Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) to advance the ongoing development of the company’s lead candidate for viral conjunctivitis, OKG-0301. There are approximately 30 million cases of acute conjunctivitis annually worldwide, including 6 million cases in the United States alone. Seventy percent of U.S. conjunctivitis patients seek treatment each year, of which 80% have viral forms of the infection.
“There are no approved therapies for viral conjunctivitis, and patients frequently receive antibiotics despite their lack of efficacy in treating viral infections and potential to cause antibiotic resistance,” Brian M. Strem, Chief Executive Officer of Okogen, said in a company news release. “Safe and effective treatment options are needed to address this highly contagious and common infection, and we believe that OKG-0301 has substantial clinical and commercial potential in this indication. This Series A funding will support our OKG-0301 clinical development plan, including initiation of a phase 2 clinical trial before the end of 2018. We believe that the support of Brandon Capital, a fund with deep expertise in identifying promising biopharmaceutical companies, highlights Okogen’s exciting opportunities.”
OKG-0301 is an ophthalmic formulation of ranpirnase, a potent ribonuclease with established broad-spectrum antiviral properties. Adenoviral conjunctivitis, the initial clinical indication in which OKG-0301 will be evaluated, is the number one cause of eye infections globally. The infection causes significant patient morbidity and leads to millions of visits to emergency departments, urgent care facilities, ophthalmic clinics and pediatric departments in the United States alone. With no approved therapies, adenoviral conjunctivitis has significant unmet medical need throughout the world.
Okogen Board Director and MRCF Investment Manager Chris Smith said, “Our investment in Okogen demonstrates our belief in the company’s technology, team and potential to positively impact the lives of millions of patients.”
In addition to the Series A Funding, Okogen also announced the appointment of Quinton Oswald to the Board of Directors. Mr. Oswald currently serves as the President and CEO of Notal Vision, a commercial-stage ophthalmic company focused on age-related macular degeneration. Prior to Notal, Mr. Oswald was President and CEO at Neurotech Pharmaceuticals and SARcode Bioscience. Mr. Oswald has also held executive level roles at Genentech, Novartis and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Added Mr. Strem, “Quinton’s history of leadership and accomplishment in the ocular space is unparalleled, and we are excited to benefit from the knowledge and experience he brings to Okogen.”