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Imagen Biotech Banks $40 Million to Advance Ophthalmology Therapies


10/20/2011 6:52:13 AM

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Imagen Biotech, Inc. announced today that it has secured up to $40 million in Series A financing from SV Life Sciences, Novo Ventures, and Fidelity Biosciences to pursue the identification and development of breakthrough treatments for blinding diseases with high unmet medical needs, including dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD). Matthew Feinsod, MD, an ophthalmologist who was formerly at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals and a medical officer in the FDA’s Ophthalmology Division, will lead these efforts as Chief Medical Officer for Imagen. Additional terms will not be disclosed.

In addition to Dr. Feinsod, David Guyer, MD, former founder and CEO of Eyetech Pharmaceuticals and current partner at SV Life Sciences, will serve as the Executive Chairman of Imagen. Scott Cousins, MD, a leader in clinical and laboratory retina research as Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Duke Center for Macular Diseases, is Chief Scientific Officer of Imagen. The Company’s three investor groups have significant investments and expertise in the field of ophthalmology.

“With capital commitment in place, Imagen can focus 100% of our energy and resources on bringing the best therapies to patients. We are grateful to our investor partners for this opportunity,” Dr. Feinsod notes.

“We continue to recognize the desperate need for treatments in these degenerative eye diseases. Imagen’s experienced leadership team has a proven track record of success, and we are working closely with them to deliver revolutionary ophthalmology treatments to these patients,” says Thomas Dyrberg, MD, senior partner at Novo Ventures, Novo A/S.

Imagen is actively screening a variety of promising compounds using rigorous criteria for scientific merit and commercial opportunity. “We continue to seek collaborations worldwide with companies, researchers and institutions that have identified new pathways and/or compounds that might lead to a treatment for sight-threatening diseases with unmet needs, whether prevalent or rare,” says Dr. Feinsod.

Dry AMD, representing at least 80% of the estimated 15 million patients with AMD, and less common retinal diseases such as Stargardt and others historically have been poorly understood and the regulatory path for any potential therapies was uncertain. Recently, however, researchers have identified several relevant disease pathways and regulators have outlined clearer paths to product approval. “Given such advances, we believe the timing is right and that Imagen is uniquely positioned to identify and bring life-changing therapies to patients,” says Dr. Feinsod.

About Dry AMD

AMD is a chronic, progressive disease of the central portion of the retina called the macula, resulting in the loss of central vision, potentially preventing patients from reading, driving and seeing faces. AMD is classified into two forms: atrophic, referred to as dry AMD, and neovascular or wet AMD. While the past decade saw major advances in the treatment of wet AMD, unfortunately the dry form remains without an approved drug.

Dry AMD is the most common type of macular degeneration and affects at least 80% of the estimated 15 million people who have AMD. In the dry form, there is a breakdown or thinning of the layer of retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) in the macula. These RPE cells support the light sensitive photoreceptor cells that are critical to vision.

The death or degeneration of these cells is called atrophy. Therefore, dry AMD is often referred to as atrophic AMD. It is characterized by the presence of drusen (spots of yellow crystalline deposits that develop within the macula) and thinning of the macula. In the early stage, the damage caused by the "dry" form is not as severe or rapid as that of the "wet" form. However, in the advanced stage, it can cause profound vision loss.

About SV Life Sciences

SV Life Sciences is a venture capital adviser and manager that invests selectively in businesses across the human life sciences sector, including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, medical devices and instruments, and healthcare information technology and services. SV Life Sciences currently advises or manages five funds with capital commitments of approximately $2 billion primarily in North America and Europe. The firm invests in a broad range of companies including several ophthalmology companies such as KalVista Pharmaceuticals, Lux Biosciences, NeoVista, Neurotech, Ocular Therapeutix, Ophthotech and PanOptica. SV Life Sciences has a team of 32 professionals with diverse, complementary skills and experience that apply to almost any life sciences business. Established in 1993, SV Life Sciences has offices in Boston, San Francisco and London. For additional information, please visit www.svlsa.com.

About Novo Ventures

Novo A/S is the holding Company of the Novo Group, and is wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Novo A/S was established in 1999 to manage the assets of the Foundation and actively make investments on behalf of the Foundation. The Novo Ventures team consists of four Partners in Copenhagen, one in London and three in San Francisco. With an evergreen structure, Novo A/S annually invests approximately $100 million in venture capital into private life sciences companies each year. In total Novo A/S has more than $ 10 billion under management, which includes significant shareholdings in the independently operating and publicly listed companies Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S. Ophthalmology investments include Imagen Biotech, Ophthotech, KalVista Pharmaceuticals, and Lux Biosciences.

About Fidelity Biosciences

Fidelity Biosciences is a division of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. For more than 30 years, Fidelity Investments has been a significant presence in the venture capital and private equity industry, investing the firm’s own capital since 1969. This provides them with the flexibility, and capabilities of traditional venture capital firms while eliminating the additional pressures of fundraising. The result is a clear focus on building long-term value for Fidelity, their management partners, and co-investors. They are engaged investors and board members, seeking to add value by providing strategic guidance and assistance to management throughout the process of building successful businesses. They possess the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up enterprise, while bringing to bear the considerable strengths and resources of Fidelity Investments. For more information, please visit www.fidelitybiosciences.com.

About Imagen Biotech

Imagen Biotech, Inc. is a private, venture-backed biopharmaceutical company focused on identifying and developing therapeutics for blinding diseases with high unmet medical needs, including dry age-related macular degeneration. Since its formation in the summer of 2011 with financing from SV Life Sciences, Novo Ventures and Fidelity Biosciences, Imagen continues to evaluate numerous compounds sourced worldwide to determine their feasibility as drug development candidates. The Company was co-founded by ophthalmologists Matthew Feinsod, MD, former medical officer at FDA and later SVP with Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, and David Guyer, MD, former founder and CEO of Eyetech Pharmaceuticals and current partner with SV Life Sciences. Imagen is funded to develop approximately three compounds through predetermined milestones. For more information, please visit www.imagenbiotech.com or send us an email at contact@imagenbiotech.com.

Contact:

Company Contact:Imagen Biotech, Inc.Matt Feinsod, MD, 212-359-9491contact@imagenbiotech.comorMedia Contact:SmithSolve LLCOn Behalf of Imagen BiotechJennifer Devine, 973-442-1555 ext. 102jennifer.devine@smithsolve.com


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