Ophthotech Corporation announced that it has acquired Inception 4, a privately held company backed by Versant Ventures, expanding Ophthotech’s therapeutic pipeline in age-related retinal indications.
Through this acquisition, Ophthotech gains worldwide development and commercialization rights to Inception 4’s small molecule inhibitors of HtrA1 (high temperature requirement A serine peptidase 1 protein). HtrA1 is potentially implicated in a range of retinal diseases including geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As a major new investor with substantial geographic reach, Versant Ventures has agreed to help Ophthotech identify exceptional opportunities to expand the pipeline.
“We are thrilled to welcome Versant Ventures as a major shareholder through our acquisition of Inception 4,” Glenn P. Sblendorio, Chief Executive Officer of Ophthotech, said in a company news release. “This HtrA1 inhibitor program aligns with our commitment to further build upon Ophthotech’s strategy to develop novel therapeutics and gene therapy treatments for retinal diseases. We believe this acquisition is a compelling opportunity to create value for our shareholders. We look forward to adding the HtrA1 program to our pipeline and potentially further expanding our portfolio with additional opportunities in retinal diseases.”
As a result of the closing of the acquisition, Ophthotech obtained approximately $6.1 million in cash through Inception 4. As upfront consideration in the transaction, Ophthotech agreed to issue approximately 5.2 million shares to the shareholders of Inception 4. After giving effect to the transaction, Versant Ventures, through its affiliated investment funds, owns approximately 12.5% of the outstanding shares of Ophthotech’s common stock. In addition, Inception 4 equity holders will be entitled to receive post-closing payments contingent upon the achievement of certain clinical and marketing approval milestones in certain AMD indications. As a result of closing this transaction, the company is increasing its year end 2018 projected balance of cash and cash equivalents to range between $125 million and $130 million based on its current 2018 business plan and planned capital expenditures. Ophthotech will not assume any additional employees or corporate infrastructure in connection with this transaction.
“We are excited for Ophthotech to add the Inception 4 HtrA1 inhibitor program to its diversified portfolio,” Jerel Davis, PhD, Managing Director of Versant Ventures, said in a company news release. “The Ophthotech team has unique expertise in drug development for retinal diseases, including a proven track record in conducting multiple global clinical trials, and we are pleased to have the HtrA1 inhibitor program as part of the next chapter of Ophthotech’s retinal franchise. As shareholders of Ophthotech, we look forward to the advancement of the HtrA1 inhibitor program as well as the rest of Ophthotech’s therapeutic and gene therapy portfolio.”
Genetic linkage studies have demonstrated a correlation between HtrA1 and risk for AMD. Overexpression of HtrA1 in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells has been observed in AMD patients, potentially impacting both RPE cell structure and function. Further, HtrA1 overexpression may impact the Bruch’s membrane and extracellular matrix underneath the RPE cells, as well as the photoreceptor cells in the retina that are crucial for vision.
“This HtrA1 inhibitor program represents a promising addition to our complement inhibition program for the treatment of age-related retinal diseases,” stated Kourous A. Rezaei, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Ophthotech. “This acquisition further advances our strategy to develop a diversified portfolio for the treatment of retinal diseases based on strong scientific evidence. Based on our current development plans and subject to successful completion of preclinical development and regulatory review, we are targeting to submit an IND with the U.S. FDA for our new HtrA1 inhibitor program in geographic atrophy secondary to dry AMD in late 2020.”