Aerie Pharmaceuticals Announces $21 Million Series A Financing; Company to Develop Innovative Products for Treatment of Glaucoma.
Building upon a portfolio of intellectual property licensed from Duke University Medical Center, Aerie was founded by Professor David L. Epstein, MD, Chairman of Duke University's Department of Ophthalmology, Professor Eric Toone, Ph.D., of Duke University's Chemistry Department, and Casey Kopczynski, Ph.D., now COO at Aerie. The company's initial drug discovery and development efforts are focused on creating a pipeline of proprietary products for the pharmaceutical treatment of glaucoma.
Today, many of the more than 3 million glaucoma patients in the United States are treated with a first generation of prostaglandins analogs, using these eye drops to lower intraocular eye pressure (IOP). However, there is often a need to combine multiple medications to achieve and maintain satisfactory IOP levels, which may result in additional side effects. Aerie's leading clinical candidate, AR-101, is the first of a second generation of prostaglandin analogs with the potential to provide both superior efficacy and an improved safety profile. AR-101 is expected to go into Phase I and Phase II clinical studies in 2006.
"AR-101 presents a major opportunity to provide improved treatment options to glaucoma patients, and this funding will accelerate our efforts to bring these innovative products to market," said Aerie President and CEO Tom van Haarlem, MD. In addition to the initial candidate, Aerie will also pursue development of a proprietary, breakthrough class of glaucoma product that incorporates novel chemistry to improve penetration of drugs into the eye. "There is tremendous potential for innovation in this area, with an additional large group of high risk patients with Ocular Hypertension who are currently undiagnosed and/or untreated. We have now brought together the talent, technology and ambition necessary to succeed," said Dr. van Haarlem.
"We are excited to help build what we believe will be an important company focused on the development and commercialization of therapeutics and diagnostics intended to prevent blindness and improve visual health," said Dr. Duyk. "Aerie Pharmaceuticals represents not only a company focused on the prevention and treatment of glaucoma, but a more general platform for the development and commercialization of products for the treatment and diagnosis of other categories of eye disease."
The company's business model centers on an experienced management team expanding core capabilities in medicinal chemistry and cell biology, while outsourcing non-core capabilities.
"Aerie has all the hallmarks of a promising early stage biotechnology company," said Dr. Mack. "Initial animal testing has been very encouraging. Our products target a rapidly growing $3 billion dollar global market that has seen little innovation and is ripe for improvement. We have a seasoned team of senior executives who will successfully shepherd AR-101 into the clinic, and we have provided the necessary capital to get them there."
The Series A funding will support the company's efforts to complete Phase I/II clinical studies for their clinical candidate AR-101, and to file an IND for a lead compound with a novel mechanism of action. Aerie is headquartered in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Aerie Pharmaceuticals is dedicated to the discovery and development of medical innovations in the field of ophthalmology. Based on intellectual property licensed from Duke University Medical Center, Aerie is developing a pipeline of proprietary products for the pharmaceutical treatment of glaucoma. Its lead clinical candidate, AR-101, is a second-generation glaucoma product with an expected superior efficacy and safety profile. AR-101 will enter clinical studies (Phase I/II) in 2006. Aerie's pre-clinical programs focus on the development of novel outflow drugs to lower intra-ocular pressure. Aerie is headquartered in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
About Alta Partners
Alta Partners was founded in 1996 by four of the senior partners of Burr, Egan, Deleage & Co. (BEDCO), a pioneering venture capital firm formed in 1979 that focused on early-stage investing in life sciences, information technology and communications. The firm is viewed as a preferred venture partner due to its dominant market position in life sciences and the quality of its team. Alta Partners currently manages seven funds aggregating approximately $1.5 billion in committed capital. Since its founding in 1996, Alta has been one of the most active life science investors funding over 85 companies across the continuum from company formation to later-stage opportunities.
About Texas Pacific Group Ventures
In 2001, Texas Pacific Group Ventures closed their first institutional fund with over $500 million in capital. Their investment focus is on information technology, consumer and biotechnology companies. The Venture group is part of Texas Pacific Group (TPG), a leading global alternative investment firm founded in 1992 which employs more than 100 professionals in several investment fund platforms including US, European and Asian large-scale buyouts and venture capital. TPG manages more than $20 billion in capital through offices in Ft. Worth, San Francisco, London, New York, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Seoul, Tokyo, and Melbourne.