Oculis, a Lausanne, Switzerland-based clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of non-invasive topical treatment for back-of-the-eye diseases, closed a Series B financing round of CHF20m ($20.3m).
The financing was led by a syndicate of international life science investors including Bay City Capital, Novartis Venture Fund and Pivotal bioVenture Partners, as well as existing investors Brunnur Ventures and Silfurberg, also participated in the financing.
The funds will be used to advance the clinical development of the company’s lead program OC-118, a proprietary topical product currently in a Phase IIb clinical trial for the treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema (DME).
Founded by Prof. Einar Stefánsson and Prof. Thorsteinn Loftsson, Oculis is a developer of non-invasive topical drug delivery solutions for eye diseases, advancing several drug programs and a pivotal clinical study in Diabetic Macular Edema patients. The company has demonstrated the clinical potential of its drug delivery technology in two pilot trials with OC-118 in DME patients and several studies in uveitis, glaucoma and post-operative care.
Oculis has research operations in Reykjavik, Iceland.
OC-118 has been developed using Oculis’ novel Solubilizing Nanoparticle (SNP) technology platform, which improves both the ability to formulate drugs as eye drops and their bioavailability in the eye tissues including anterior and posterior segments. In addition to the Phase IIb DME program, the company is advancing OC-118 in other ophthalmic indications and is developing other drug candidates using SNP technology to the clinical stage.
Dr. Riad Sherif, formerly Area President Europe, Middle East & Africa at Alcon and formerly a senior executive at Novartis, has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Oculis, with Páll Ragnar Jóhannesson, becoming Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director of Oculis in Iceland. Dr. Sabri Markabi, previously Senior VP, Head of R&D and Chief Medical Officer at Alcon, will join as Chief Scientific Officer, and the founders Stefánsson and Loftsson becoming Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Research and Technology Officer, respectively.
Florent Gros (Novartis Venture Fund) will be joining the Board as Chairman, in addition of Arni Blöndal (Brunnur Ventures) and Stefan J. Sveinsson (formerly Global EVP RD at Actavis), Lionel Carnot (Bay City Capital) and Rob Hopfner (Pivotal Bioventure Partners).