Ever cringe when you have your eye examined and the doctor puffs air at your eye? It makes my eye twitch just thinking about it. That puff of air tests for glaucoma symptoms. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of visual disability and blindness in the world. It wasn’t until my mom was diagnosed with glaucoma that I took notice.
Aerie Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Duke University spinoff developing a treatment for glaucoma, has raised $30 million in a series B round of venture-capital financing. With R&D operations located in Alexandria Innovation Center, one of the The Research Triangle Park’s five incubators, Aerie Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of medical innovations in ophthalmology.
Clarus Ventures and Sofinnova Ventures co-led the round, with participation from Osage University Partners, and existing investors Alta Partners and TPG Biotech.
Aerie expects to use proceeds from this financing to fund continued development of Aerie’s broad product portfolio in glaucoma and advance the company’s lead product, AR-12286, a first-in-class selective Rho-kinase inhibitor, into Phase 3 trials by the end of 2011.
“We are excited about the potential for Aerie’s compounds to offer multiple, improved and differentiated treatment options for millions of patients suffering from this widespread, degenerative disease,” said Tom van Haarlem, MD, President and CEO of Aerie.
The company is also pursuing several other pipeline programs also aimed at glaucoma therapy.
“Despite the fact that glaucoma is a progressive disease, there has not been a drug with a new mechanism of action approved in the glaucoma field since the mid-nineties,” said Dr. Anand Mehra of Sofinnova. “Patients often need several drugs to control their disease, and physicians have limited options with these older mechanisms. We believe that AR-12286′s new MOA, strong efficacy, excellent tolerability, and once daily dosing can provide real value to patients at risk of losing their vision.”
RTP is proud to be home to incubators such as Alexandria Innovation Center that provide the wet lab space that allows R&D start-ups such as Aerie to thrive. We are even more proud that Aerie Pharmaceuticals is a home grown company, spun out of Duke University, that RTP helped to nuture in order to commercialize its medical innovations. What a great success story that proves that RTP truly is, “the future of great ideas.”