A couple of weeks after signing a major deal with Novartis for its eye drug ocriplasmin, Belgium's ThromboGenics has raised 77.8 million euros through a private placement.

The funding saw ThromboGenics place over 3.2 million new shares with a range of domestic and international investors and "qualified institutional buyers in the USA" at a price of 24 euros per share. This represented a 3.5% discount on the previous closing price on March 27  and the new issue represents around 10% of the current number of outstanding shares.

The funds will be used by the Leuven-based biotech for the US launch of ocriplasmin, which is "potentially the first  pharmacological treatment for symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion, including macular hole". Thrombogenics recently licensed the non-US rights to Novartis' Alcon unit, which saw the former pocket an upfront fee of 75 million euros, plus 90 million euros in near-term milestone payments; additional milestones bring the potential total to 375 million euros, plus royalties.

Thrombogenics says it will also use cash from the placement to in-license development-stage product candidates and for general corporate purposes. Chief executive Dr Patrik De Haes, who noted that the funding was over-subscribed, said the cash raised "will allow us to build a first-class US commercial organisation ahead of the anticipated launch of ocriplasmin", which has the potential "to provide a new treatment paradigm for patients with symptomatic VMA including macular hole". He concluded by saying that the proceeds "should also enable us to become a profitable, ophthalmology company".

In a recent investor note, analysts at Edison Investment Research stated that shares in the Belgian company "now trade at record highs and with burgeoning expectations comes increasing pressure to delve". They noted that the Alcon deal, with 165 million euros in near-term payments, "provides ocriplasmin with the best possible start in Europe". Approval in Europe is expected by the first quarter of 2013 and a US green light could follow later that year.