Ocugen Inc., an ophthalmic biopharmaceutical company based in Pennsylvania, USA, has announced the close of a $7.5M venture capital funding to support the development of new therapeutics for a range of sight-threatening diseases. The company has a series of novel treatment approaches for ophthalmic disorders which include ocular graft versus host disease, retinitis pigmentosa, geographic atrophy, wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The company had recently closed a $6 million round of Series A funding in December 2016.
The current Series B funding was co-led by Abdi Ibrahim, a leading Turkish pharmaceutical company, and by the JSC Lancaster Group. The company intends to use all funds to support the advancement of their clinical products into human trials. Ocugen is focused on activating novel biologic pathways to treat inflammatory, degenerative and neovascular diseases of the eye and has a number of experimental treatments in early stage clinical studies. Their lead product, “OCU100”, for the potential treatment of retintis pigmentosa, is a recombinant protein based on lens epithelial derived growth factor, shown to rescue photoreceptors in animal models of retinal degeneration. A second product, “OCU200” is described as a fusion protein, based on tumstatin and transferrin, that down regulates angiogenesis in active endothelial cells by binding to αVβ3 integrins. The approach may eventually compete against anti-VEGF treatments in wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR). A third product, “OCU300” is a repurposed drug for ocular graft-versus-host disease and is currently under-going development via the U.S. Food and Drug Agency’s 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway.
Ocugen was founded in Spring 2014 by a pharmaceutical, bioengineering and ocular therapy specialist from the University of Colorado, Prof. Uday Kompella; and by his colleague, Dr. Shankar Musunuri, a veteran pharmaceutical executive with prior experience in Pfizer and Wyeth. Commenting on the milestone, Dr. Shankar Musunuri, now Chairman and Chief Executive of Ocugen stated, “We are very proud of the progress we have made with our pipeline and steadfast in our plans to advance these products toward commercialization. We are pleased to have closed this round of financing and are appreciative of the confidence shown by our new investors, all of which have proven track records of success in the pharmaceutical industry.”