SEATTLE & BOSTON & TOKYO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aurion Biotech, whose mission is to restore vision to millions of patients with its life-changing regenerative therapies, today announced it has secured a $120 million financing with top-tier biotech and ophthalmology investors. The financing was led by Deerfield Management, and included existing investors Petrichor Healthcare Capital Management, Flying L Partners, Falcon Vision, an ophthalmology-focused investment platform supported by KKR, and Visionary Ventures, a leading ophthalmology-focused venture fund creating value with better insight. Alcon also participated in the financing. Funds will be disbursed to the Company based on the achievement of key clinical and operational milestones.
Andrew ElBardissi, M.D. and partner at Deerfield Management, and Patrick Lally, partner at Petrichor, will join Aurion Biotech’s board of directors.
“We invest in experienced entrepreneurs, brilliant scientists and clinicians, and disruptive technologies that address significant unmet patient needs,” said Dr. ElBardissi. “We believe that Aurion Biotech possesses each of those key success factors and we look forward to supporting the Company’s next phase of growth and innovation.”
Aurion Biotech’s first candidate is a cell therapy for the treatment of corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction, developed by world-renowned ophthalmic surgeon and research scientist Professor Shigeru Kinoshita and his colleagues at Kyoto Prefecture University of Medicine (KPUM) in Japan. The Company acquired this technology in 2020. Aurion Biotech is currently preparing to submit a J-NDA for market approval in Japan, and an IND to initiate clinical trials in the US.
Aurion Biotech intends to use the proceeds of this financing to advance its cell therapy program for corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction, which affects approximately 16 million people in the US, Europe and Japan1.
“Our financing speaks volumes about the potential of our cell therapy to transform the lives of millions of people suffering from corneal endothelial dystrophies,” said Greg Kunst, chief executive officer of Aurion Biotech. “We are inspired and gratified by the strategic support, insights and depth of resources our investors bring to Aurion Biotech – all of which will help to accelerate our momentum.”
Raymond James served as the exclusive financial advisor to Aurion Biotech, in connection with this offering.
About Corneal Endothelial Diseases
Corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction is a sight-threatening and debilitating condition affecting millions of people throughout the world. When corneal endothelial cells die or degrade, they do not regenerate. Ultimately, corneal endothelial cell loss can cause corneal edema and loss of vision. Although corneal transplants are effective, there are disadvantages with these procedures (DMEK/DSAEK2):
Limited donor organ supply. Transplants require a supply of donor corneas in a 1:1 ratio (one healthy donor cornea to treat each diseased one), yet it’s estimated that there is only one donor cornea available for every 70 diseased eyes.3
- Complex surgical procedure. Although there are approximately 20,000 ophthalmologists in the US4 and approximately 1,500 corneal specialists, the Company estimates that fewer than 300 actively perform the DMEK/DSAEK procedures. While DMEK/DSAEK have excellent outcomes, some patients may require a regraft procedure5.
Clinical studies treating over 100 patients in Japan and El Salvador support the significant potential advantages of Aurion Biotech’s cell therapy for treating patients with corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction:
- Abundant supply of corneal endothelial cells. From a single donor, the Company can manufacture corneal endothelial cells to treat up to 100 recipient eyes.
- Straightforward procedure to perform. As a simple injection, the cell therapy procedure can be performed efficiently and is less complex than corneal transplantation.
- Patient-friendly procedure. Post-operative recovery for cell therapy is several hours, as compared to several days for corneal transplant procedures.
About Aurion Biotech
Based in Seattle, Boston and Tokyo, Aurion Biotech is a clinical-stage biotech company. Our mission is to restore vision to millions of patients with our life-changing regenerative therapies. Our first candidate is for the treatment of corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction, and is one of the first clinically validated cell therapies for corneal care. Healthy cells from a donor cornea are cultured in a novel, multi-step, proprietary and patented process. Cells manufactured from a single donor can treat more than 100 recipient eyes. In clinical trials in Japan, patients have experienced significant and durable improvements in key measures of corneal health: visual acuity, corneal endothelial cell density and central corneal thickness. The Aurion Biotech team is preparing for clinical trials in the U.S. To learn more about Aurion Biotech, visit www.aurionbiotech.com
About Deerfield Management
Deerfield is an investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. The Firm works across the healthcare ecosystem to connect people, capital, ideas and technology in bold, collaborative and inclusive ways. For more information, please visit www.deerfield.com.
1 Source: NIH https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/fuchs-endothelial-dystrophy/#:~:text=The%20late-onset%20form%20of,the%20exact%20prevalence%20is%20unknown
2 Descemets Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty / Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty
3 JAMA: Global Survey of Corneal Transplantation & Eye Banking: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/2474372
5 Source: EBAA 2020 Annual Report
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