SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Altheos, Inc., a privately held early-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced today that it has completed a $20 million Series A financing led by Bay City Capital. New investors Novo A/S, Canaan Partners, Life Science Angels and Atheneos Capital also joined the round. The financing will be used primarily for the development of ATS907, a selective Rho-kinase inhibitor Altheos licensed from Japanese pharmaceutical company Asahi Kasei Pharma. The license also includes a series of highly active compounds (AK138 series) specifically for topical treatment for glaucoma.
"No therapeutics based upon new mechanisms-of-action have been approved for glaucoma in 15 years. ATS907 is in a new class of therapies that may provide a much needed alternative for the growing aging population who are most afflicted by the disease," said Henry Hsu, M.D., CEO of Altheos. "The strong interest in the development candidate ATS907 by top investors is a testament to its potential as well as those within the AK138 series which Altheos has licensed."
As part of the financing, Lester Kaplan, Ph.D., a member of Bay City Capital's scientific advisory board and former President, Research and Development, and Board Member at Allergan, Inc. will be joining the company's board as Chairman. The board will be further expanded to include Rob Hopfner of Bay City Capital, Peter Bisgaard of Novo A/S and Wende Hutton of Canaan Partners.
"Rho-kinase inhibitors like ATS907 target a new mechanism in glaucoma with the potential to significantly improve upon control of the disease," said Dr. Kaplan. "ATS907 and related analogues were specifically designed to have properties that make it optimal for ocular administration and with an improved therapeutic index compared to other Rho-kinase inhibitors in development. The pre-clinical studies indicate important differentiators from existing therapies, both in safety and efficacy."
"The market for glaucoma is expected to increase from 60 million people today by nearly 30 percent to 80 million by 2020," said Hutton. "We see significant potential for ATS907, as it acts against a new target in the eye that could prevent further vision loss and unnecessary side effects."
About Rho-kinase Inhibitors for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Current drug treatments are directed towards lowering intraocular pressure to reduce the risk of vision loss. The majority of patients require more than one drug to control pressure and many are unable to reach treatment targets on maximum combination therapy. These drugs reduce intraocular pressure by either reducing the production of aqueous humor, which bathes the anterior portion of the eye, or by increasing its outflow through the uveal-scleral route, a secondary route of aqueous clearance. Research in the last decade has identified Rho-kinase as an important mediator of aqueous outflow through the trabecular meshwork or "conventional" outflow pathway, the primary route of aqueous clearance in the eye. Inhibitors of this enzyme have been shown to reduce cellular "stiffness" and resistance to outflow in the trabecular meshwork thereby reducing intraocular pressure. Animal data also shows that inhibition of Rho-kinase has neuroprotective effects that may be of benefit in glaucoma. There are currently no Rho-kinase inhibitors on the market for glaucoma.
About Altheos, Inc.
Altheos, Inc. is an early-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the identification and development of promising well-differentiated novel small molecule drugs for unmet medical needs. Altheos, Inc. was co-founded in 2009 by two experienced pharmaceutical drug development executives and entrepreneurs, Henry H. Hsu, M.D. and M. (Ken) Kengatharan, Ph.D. The company is headquartered in South San Francisco, California.
About Asahi Kasei Pharma
Asahi Kasei Pharma, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a research-based healthcare innovator that discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets pharmaceutical products. Asahi Kasei Pharma is a wholly owned business unit of Asahi Kasei Corporation, a $14 billion technology company that provides innovative, science-based solutions to a diverse range of markets including chemicals and plastics, apparel, housing and construction, healthcare, and electronics. Asahi Kasei Pharma is the only company with a Rho-kinase inhibitor on the market (fasudil for treatment of subarachnoid hemorrhage, approved in Japan in 1995) and is a leading company in the development of novel Rho-kinase inhibitors for multiple indications.