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Why VCs Are Backing Ivantis Without Batting An Eye

A $25 million series C round extends Ivantis Inc.'s runway into 2020, and should help bring the Hydrus Microstent for glaucoma to U.S. market next year.

Amanda Pedersen

Ivantis Inc. added $25 million to its coffers

Ivantis Inc. knows how to catch the eye of investors. The Irvine, CA-based company has raised more than $96 million in venture capital funding since 2011 to support the company's microstent for glaucoma.

Don't miss the MD&M West conference and expo, February 7-9, 2017, in Anaheim, CA.

RA Capital Management led the latest financing, a $25 million series C round, which is expected to extend the company's runway into 2020 and support U.S. commercialization of the Hydrus Microstent. The company said it expects to win FDA approval for the device in 2018. Mérieux and existing investors also contributed to the series C round.

Roughly the size of an eyelash, the Hydrus Microstent is placed through a minimally invasive, microsurgical procedure and is designed to reduce eye pressure by reestablishing the patient's natural outflow pathway.

The Hydrus relies on a multi-modal mechanism of action, Ivantis said. The device is designed to create a large opening through the traditional source of flow blockage, known as the trabecular meshwork, and then dilating and scaffolding the conventional pathway through which fluid exits the eye (known as Schlemm's canal), providing expanded access to the collector channels.

Peter Kolchinsky, portfolio manager and managing director at RA Capital Management, said a key competitive advantage of the Hydrus Microstent is that it is targeted to Schlemm's canal.

"The procedure is so straight forward that we couldn't believe it could even be performed independently of cataract surgery, essentially marrying the durable efficacy of an implanted device with the ubiquity of laser," Kolchinsky said. "Millions of patients around the world stand to benefit."

A U.S. pivotal trial is evaluating Hydrus Microstent in glaucoma patients who are undergoing cataract surgery, but the device is being used internationally both in cataract surgery and in standalone glaucoma surgery.

More than 20 percent of the 3.5 million U.S. patients undergoing cataract surgery have a concurrent diagnosis of glaucoma, the company noted, representing about 700,000 U.S. patients each year who may be candidates for the investigational treatment. On a broader scale, the World Health Organization estimates that 32 million cataract surgeries will be performed globally each year, by 2020, and several million of those patients will also have glaucoma.

Ivantis will have plenty of company in the minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) market. Last year, Osaka, Japan-based Santen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. bought its way into the space with its $225 million acquisition of InnFocus Inc., developer of the InnFocus Microshunt. Santen already had a portfolio of intraocular pressure (IOP) products, including IOP drugs in the form of eye drops, but the company did not have a product designed to treat end-stage disease. The specialty pharmaceutical company saw the InnFocus Microshunt as a way to fill that gap and bookend its existing IOP portfolio. The InnFocus Microshunt was developed to lower and sustain intraocular pressure for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma (mild to severe stage). The device is CE marked and well on its way to scoring an FDA approval.

Other players in the MIGS space include Glaukos Corp.; Alcon, which acquired Transcend Medical Inc. last year; and Istar Medical.

Amanda Pedersen is Qmed's news editor. Reach her at [email protected].

[Image courtesy of Pixabay]

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