TEL AVIV, Israel--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Azura Ophthalmics Ltd. (Azura), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing innovative therapies for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), today announced it has completed a $16 million Series B funding round led by a syndicate of OrbiMed, TPG Biotech and Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund with participation from an existing investor Ganot Capital. The investment comes at a key time of growth and will enable Azura to advance development of drug therapy for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) to the next stage of clinical research.
Azura Ophthalmics also announces that Anat Naschitz, OrbiMed; Heather Preston, TPG Biotech and Chris Nave, Brandon Capital will join the board of directors alongside Guy Katsav, Ganot Capital, Marc Gleeson, and Yair Alster.
Meibomian glands reside in the upper and lower eyelids and are responsible for producing the oily layer that forms the outermost layer of the tear film. This oil (lipid) layer, in conjunction with the watery layer of the tear film work together to maintain clear vision and ocular health. An intact lipid layer ensures tears do not evaporate and keeps the eyes moisturized and nourished. If this layer is disturbed, it leads to tears evaporating too quickly, drying out the ocular surface and resulting in damage to the front of the eye, discomfort, and a significant reduction in both quality of life and productivity.
Azura founders and executive team bring decades of experience working at both start-ups and ophthalmology companies. Yair Alster, MD, Azura founder and Chief Technology Officer, previously co-founded several companies in the ophthalmic space, among which are Forsight Vision 4 (sold to Roche-Genentech), Forsight Vision 5 (sold to Allergan) and Notal Vision, a commercial stage company. Marc Gleeson, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, spent 14 years at Allergan as Vice President of Global Marketing for Ophthalmology. After leaving Allergan he joined Oculeve, another dry eye company who developed the Oculeve Intranasal Tear Neurostimulator device, now TrueTear™ which was ultimately acquired by Allergan. Most recently, Azura named Charles Bosworth as Chief Medical Officer, the latest addition to an experienced clinical team.
“Our leadership team has had tremendous success, not only in ophthalmology start-ups, but also specifically in dry eye drug development and commercialization. The appointment of Charles Bosworth brings the necessary clinical and dry eye experience to our innovative approach to MGD. We are pleased to have such an accomplished healthcare leader join the team,” said Marc Gleeson, Chief Executive Officer. “With the support of our syndicate of investors and Ganot Capital we’re able to significantly expand our clinical efforts and attract the right talent and experience to execute our vision of providing treatment to those suffering from this disease.”
“This latest round of financing validates the strength of our team’s accomplishments to date and will fuel Azura’s unique and innovative approach to treating dry eye,” said Eugene de Juan, one of the founders. “We are now poised to further develop our clinical studies to demonstrate the drug’s efficacy and seek regulatory clearance.”
MGD patients represent one of the largest and most underserved segments in ophthalmology. If left untreated, MGD will alter the tear ﬁlm, causing eye irritation, inﬂammation, and severe Dry Eye Disease (DED). Azura Ophthalmics’ therapy is preparing for a phase 2a trial, having shown efficacy in an initial clinical proof of concept study.
OrbiMed is a leading investment firm dedicated exclusively to the healthcare sector, with over $14 billion in assets under management. OrbiMed invests globally across the spectrum of healthcare companies, from venture capital start-ups to large multinational companies. OrbiMed's team of more than 90 employees manages a series of private equity funds, public equity funds, royalty/debt funds and other investment vehicles. OrbiMed maintains its headquarters in New York City, with additional offices in Herzliya Israel, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Mumbai. The investment was made by OrbiMed Israel.
About TPG Biotech
TPG Biotech is part of the growth equity and venture investment platform of TPG, the global alternative asset firm. TPG Biotech targets investments in pharmaceutical discovery and development and commercial stage medical devices.
About Brandon Capital and the MRCF
Brandon Capital Partners is a venture capital firm that manages the MRCF collaboration which provides seed and venture capital investment to support the development and growth of Australian life science companies.
Established in late 2007, the MRCF is a unique collaboration between major Australian superannuation funds, over 50 leading medical research institutes and research hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. The MRCF supports the development and commercialisation of very early-stage biomedical discoveries originating from these member research organisations, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies. The MRCF acknowledges the support of the Australian and New Zealand governments, as well as the state governments of Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
About Ganot Capital
Ganot is a privately held, family owned and operated investment company that has over 50 years of healthcare investment experience. Ganot acquires and invests through buyouts, growth capital and venture capital. Ganot's portfolio spans across the senior care sector and includes real estate properties, healthcare service companies, medical device companies and biopharmaceutical companies.
About Azura Ophthalmics
Azura Ophthalmics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company headquartered in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Azura Ophthalmics is developing an innovative portfolio of compounds in combination with a novel drug delivery platform to advance a portfolio of treatments for Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), the leading cause of dry eye disease.
By targeting the root cause of MGD, Azura Ophthalmics brings the promise of improved health and well-being to millions of people worldwide who suffer from MGD and its associated ocular surface diseases for which there are currently no effective pharmaceutical treatments.
Azura Ophthalmics is underpinned by an experienced management team with an established record of successfully developing and launching both novel devices and pharmaceuticals for the treatment of ocular surface diseases.