Another new company based in the UK, KalVista Pharmaceuticals, has raised £8 million, helped by the investment arm of Novo Nordisk, to develop its ophthalmology research.
The cash comes from a series A round from Novo A/S and SV Life Sciences and the funds will be used to develop novel, small molecule plasma kallikrein inhibitors. KalVista says these represent a new approach to the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME), "a leading cause of adult visual loss in developed countries and a major unmet medical need".
The Southampton-headquartered firm says its "advanced pre-clinical product pipeline" is targeting both intravitreal injection and oral administration routes. KalVista acquired these inhibitors plus all relevant intellectual property from fellow UK group Vantia Therapeutics.
KalVista's founders include "world-leading experts in diabetic retinopathy", Harvard Medical School's Lloyd Paul Aiello and Edward Feener. The former said that DME remains one of the major challenges in ophthalmology, and while he acknowledged that new advances such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors "are a breakthrough in treatment, current evidence demonstrates that a substantial number of patients with DME do not respond fully".
News of KalVista's launch comes in the same week as SV Life Sciences and Imperial Innovations Group put £10 million into Autifony Therapeutics, a UK-based biotechnology start-up specialising in hearing loss and tinnitus which has been set up by ex-GlaxoSmithKline senior scientists.