NeoVista Sees $33M From Insiders for Radiation Eye Treatment

Feb 14 2011

FREMONT, California—As it awaits results from Phase III clinical trials for its treatment for macular degeneration, ophthalmic device maker NeoVista Inc. says it has tapped insiders for a $33 million Series E round.

The funding—$15 million of which is a bridge loan that has converted to equity—- was provided by return investors Accuitive Medical Ventures, Carlyle Group, Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, MPM Capital, SV Life Sciences Advisers and Versant Ventures, said Chief Executive John Hendrick.

The company was formed in 2002 at device incubator Innovation Factory, and has raised $115 million from investors since graduating the program, Hendrick said. The company’s investors hold a combined 90% stake in the Newark, Calif.-based company, he said. Valuation could not be determined.

Macular degeneration is the top cause of vision loss in developed countries, with 250,000 new cases reported each year in the U.S. alone, said David Guyer, a venture partner with SV Life Sciences who holds a board seat at NeoVista.

The condition is caused by age and certain lifestyle factors, and is treated today by injecting medication—- specifically anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents—- directly into a patient’s eyeball to discourage the growth of abnormal cells.

“Once you’re on (this treatment), you can’t get off it,” said Hendrick. “The real kicker is that it’s $200,000 per injection.” Medicare costs have skyrocketed as a result, he added.

NeoVista, on the other hand, aims to treat macular degeneration with an intraocular brachytherapy device. Brachytherapy is radiation treatment that is administered by placing radioactive material directly in or on the target. NeoVista’s technology is an intraocular probe that delivers and directs radiation to the choroidal vascular bed of the retina, and does not damage the surrounding tissue, said Hendrick.

The company already has products on the market in Europe, and has seen positive results in three rounds of clinical trials in the U.S., including a Phase III study involving 500 patients, Hendrick said.

The company is expecting the data from the Phase III trials to be completed by this October, and is aiming for Food and Drug Administration approval by the end of 2012, said Guyer of SV Life Sciences.

Hendrick said he was only aware of one other company working on treatments for macular degeneration that do not involve injecting medicine.

That company—- Oraya Therapeutics Inc., also based in Newark—recently raised $5 million in Series C equity, according to VentureWire records. In 2009, the company raised $42 million from Domain Associates, Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, Scale Venture Partners and Synergy Life Partners.