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Sustained-Released Eye Treatment Company Raises $11.9M

Red-blue-green eye

(Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay)

30 Nov. 2022. A company creating extended-release delivery techniques for eye therapies is raising $11.9 million in its first venture funding round. Re-Vana Therapeutics Ltd. in Belfast, Northern Ireland, U.K., founded in 2015, is a spin-off enterprise from pharmacy school labs at Queens University in Belfast.

Re-Vana Therapeutics is developing methods for providing long-term delivery of therapies to the eyes, for disorders of the retina such as neovascular age-related macular degeneration, also known as wet AMD. Age-related macular degeneration is a common condition and the leading cause of vision loss in older adults, according to National Eye Institute. In some people aging can damage the macula, a part of the retina in the back of the eye that controls straight-ahead vision.

A damaged macula makes it more difficult to read, drive, do close-up work, or recognize faces. In dry AMD, the macula thins out, and in wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow in the back of the eye damaging the retina. Dry AMD usually forms before wet AMD, but wet AMD can cause faster vision loss.

The Re-Vana technology adapts a process for mixing active therapeutic proteins with polymers sensitive to ultraviolet or UV light. When exposed to UV waves, the polymers chemically cross-link with the treatment compounds, providing extra stability that enables production at room temperature without losing potency. The photo-crosslinking of polymers with active ingredients, says Re-Vana, also restricts water movement, making possible extended delivery of the active ingredients and control of swelling in the eye.

Tiny injected drug implants or depots

Thakur Raghu Raj Singh, professor of pharmaceutics at Queens University, conducted earlier research on long-term delivery of therapies to the eyes. His lab studies polymeric drug delivery systems for ocular, transdermal, and topical applications, including injectable and implantable techniques. Thakur is a co-founder of Re-Vana Therapeutics, and serves as the company’s chief technology officer.

The company delivers drugs with tiny implants or depots injected into the eye. The implants, called EyeLief by Re-Vana, are formed with a biodegradable mesh after injection to deliver small molecule or biologic drugs to the back of the eye. The company says preclinical and early-stage clinical safety studies show six months or more delivery of active ingredients, with no evidence of irritation or inflammation. Re-Vana is also developing an injectable depot of therapeutic proteins in gel form, for less potent eye treatments requiring higher release rates.

Re-Vana Therapeutics is raising $11.9 million in its first venture round, led by Visionary Ventures in Newport Beach, California,, an investor in start-up businesses working in ophthalmology. Taking part in the financing round are current investors Qubis Ltd, Co-Fund NI, and TechStart Ventures, with new investors ExSight Ventures and InFocus Capital Partners.

Robert Avery, founder of the California Retina Research Foundation and an adviser to Visionary Ventures, says in a Re-Vana Therapeutics statement released through Cision, “Re-Vana’s proprietary technology platforms offer significant potential to deliver both novel and approved biologics for at least six months in the clinic, reducing the need for frequent intravitreal injections and extending therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of major eye diseases.” Avery is joining the Re-Vana Therapeutics board.

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