SEATTLE & BOSTON & TOKYO – (COMMERCIAL LINE) – Aurion Biotech, whose mission is to restore the sight of millions of patients with its life-changing regenerative therapies, announced today that it has secured $ 120 million in funding with top-tier investors in biotechnology and ophthalmology. The funding was led by Deerfield Management and included existing investors Petrichor Healthcare Capital Management, Flying L Partners, Falcon Vision, an ophthalmology-focused investment platform backed by KKR, and Visionary Ventures, a major ophthalmology-focused venture fund. that creates value with better understanding. 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, MD and partner of Deerfield Management, and Patrick Lally, partner of Petrichor, will join the board of directors of Aurion Biotech.
“We invest in experienced entrepreneurs, brilliant scientists and doctors, and disruptive technologies that meet the significant needs of unsatisfied patients,” said Dr. ElBardissi. “We believe Aurion Biotech has each of these key success factors and we look forward to supporting the next phase of growth and innovation for the company.”
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 researcher, 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 United States.
Aurion Biotech intends to use the proceeds from this funding to advance its cell therapy program for corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction, which affects approximately 16 million people in the United States, Europe and Japan.1.
“Our funding 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 accelerate our momentum.”
Raymond James was Aurion Biotech’s exclusive financial advisor in connection with this offering.
Information on corneal endothelial diseases
Corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction is a vision-threatening and debilitating condition affecting millions of people around the world. When corneal endothelial cells die or degrade, they do not regenerate. Ultimately, corneal endothelial cell loss can cause corneal edema and vision loss. Although corneal transplants are effective, these procedures have drawbacks (DMEK / DSAEK2):
- Limited supply of donor organs. Transplants require a supply of donor corneas in a 1: 1 ratio (one healthy donor cornea to treat each diseased), but it is estimated that there is only one donor cornea available for every 70 diseased eyes.3
- Complex surgical procedure. Although there are around 20,000 ophthalmologists in the United States4 and approximately 1,500 corneal specialists, the Company estimates that fewer than 300 actively perform DMEK / DSAEK procedures. Although DMEK / DSAEK have excellent outcomes, some patients may require a re-grafting procedure5.
Clinical trials treating over 100 patients in Japan and El Salvador support the significant potential benefits of Aurion Biotech’s cell therapy for the treatment of patients with corneal edema secondary to endothelial dysfunction:
- Abundant supply of corneal endothelial cells. From a single donor, the company can produce corneal endothelial cells to treat up to 100 recipient eyes.
- Simple procedure to perform. Like a simple injection, the cell therapy procedure can be performed efficiently and is less complex than cornea transplantation.
- Patient-friendly procedure. Post-operative recovery for cell therapy is several hours, compared to several days for cornea transplant procedures.
About Aurion Biotech
Headquartered in Seattle, Boston and Tokyo, Aurion Biotech is a clinical stage biotech company. Our mission is to restore sight 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’s cornea are grown in a proprietary, patented, multi-step process. Cells produced by a single donor can treat more than 100 recipient eyes. In clinical trials in Japan, patients experienced significant and lasting improvements in key corneal health measures: visual acuity, corneal endothelial cell density, and central corneal thickness. Aurion Biotech team is preparing for clinical trials in the USA To find out more about Aurion Biotech, visit www.aurionbiotech.com
Deerfield Management Information
Deerfield is an investment management company committed to promoting healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. The company works across the healthcare ecosystem to connect people, capital, ideas and technology in bold, collaborative and inclusive ways. For more information, 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 Endothelial Membrane Keratoplasty / Descemets Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty with Stripping
3 JAMA: Global Survey of Corneal Transplantation & Eye Banking: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/2474372
5 Source: EBAA Annual Report 2020