Investors Pump $30 Million into Orasis Pharmaceuticals’ Series C Financing Round

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Orasis Pharmaceuticals has closed on $30 million dollars in Series C financing that will propel its corrective eye drop candidate for presbyopia symptoms, CSF-1, through Phase III clinical trials. 

The finalized funds will also take Orasis through the pre-commercialization stages. Orasis Pharmaceuticals chief executive officer Elad Kedar told Biospace that the financing is a significant vote of confidence. 

“[It’s] validation of the whole journey that we’ve had so far. Both in terms of the fact that we have new investors now coming into the company, but also because all of our investors from the previous rounds returned to this round. That’s a very strong sign of confidence in the company, in our path,” Kedar said. “It will also allow us to continue to develop our commercial readiness as we are gradually approaching to launch.”  

Primarily occurring in the middle-aged and elderly, presbyopia is the inability to focus on close objects, caused by a loss of elasticity in the lens of the eye. The lens becomes more rigid with age and makes it difficult to focus on tasks like reading articles on your smartphone screen. Presbyopia affects nearly two billion people globally, and more than 120 million in the U.S. alone.  

Current treatment options for presbyopia include prescription corrective lenses or contacts, refractive surgery, or lens implants specifically for presbyopia. Orasis’ CSF-1 is a corrective eye drop designed to alleviate the inconvenience of reading glasses and mitigate the need for invasive surgical procedures. The novel proprietary formulation combines existing molecules with those demonstrating promise after several years of study.  

The product’s mechanism of action works through pupil modulation, by achieving what is called the pinhole effect.  This increases the depth of field, thereby correcting near vision.  It is essential, however, to find the right balance of ingredients and concentration because if pupil constriction is too strong, it will have negative impacts on distance vision.  Clinical trial results to-date indicate that Orasis has found this sweet spot. 

Kedar feels confident heading into phase III due to the proactive approach taken during phase IIb clinical trials.

“The way we designed our Phase IIb was to make it as similar as possible to what we already knew we were going to be required to do in Phase III. We wanted to be in a position of assuming that we were succeeding in Phase IIb, Kedar said. “Fortunately, Phase IIb completed very successfully, with all the relevant safety endpoints showing results that demonstrate an optimum combination between efficacy, safety, and comfort.” 

He added that all of the molecules are well-studied, adding to the predictability. Orasis plans to be in the clinic for Phase III “within weeks.” 

The investment group is co-led by Midwestern Private Equity Company, Bluestem Capital, and returning investor Visionary Ventures Fund. The team, which also includes Sequoia Capital, Maverick Ventures Israel, SBI (Japan) Innovation Fund and LifeSci Venture Partners, is optimistic that CSF-1 will cement Orasis Pharmaceuticals as a leader in the treatment of presbyopia. 

“We have high confidence in the Orasis team to successfully complete its clinical program, and apply their informed commercial approach, which will make Orasis a leader in the presbyopia space,” Bluestem partner and Vice President, Tyler J. Stowater said in a statement. Stowater joins the Orasis board of directors along with Bluestem’s investment.  

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