The company is developing topical drugs for back-of-the-eye diseases, which are normally treated with painful injections directly into the eye.
Oculis reported that its newly-acquired funds will be used to support the clinical development of its lead program, OC-118. In pilot studies, the eye-drop product improved visual acuity and reduced central macular thickness in patients with diabetic macular edema.
The drug is based on Oculis’ solubilizing nanoparticle technology, which boosts the product’s bioavailability in the anterior and posterior segments of the eye.
Oculis also plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Lausanne, Switzerland, while keeping its R&D facility in Reykjavik, Iceland.
The company’s chief executive, Riad Sherif, was previously a senior executive at Novartis and Area President of Alcon’s Europe, Middle East & Africa businesses. Sabri Markabi, who formerly served as senior VP of R&D and chief medical officer at Alcon, is slated to join Oculis as chief scientific officer.
“I am extremely pleased to be joining such a great team to develop what could be the next generation of ophthalmic treatments. Oculis founders have meticulously developed the novel SNP technology that improves both the ability to formulate drugs as eye drops and their bioavailability in eye tissues including the posterior segment,” Sherif said in prepared remarks.
“This technology opens a new era of breakthrough ophthalmic therapies that could provide important benefits to patients. Our goal with the lead program OC-118 is truly to transform the way DME is treated and managed today.”
“We are transforming eye drop technology and improving drug delivery to all parts of the eye,” Dr. Einar Stefansson, co-founder & chief innovation officer, added. “Treating retinal diseases with eye drops instead of injecting the eye with a needle provides comfortable and accessible treatment options for potentially tens of millions of patients with retinal disease.”