Kellogg Eye Center startup raises $4.25M
Research on retinal detachment and its impact on vision loss by Kellogg Eye Center’s David N. Zacks, M.D., Ph.D., reached a new milestone as his biopharmaceutical company ONL Therapeutics closed $4.25 million in series A funding.
The funding, which came from investors including Novartis, the university’s Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups Program, Capital Community Angels, Invest Michigan, Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center and Hestia Investments, will be combined with a $1 million grant from the National Eye Institute.
The start-up company is preparing a clinical trial to assess ONL 1204, a FAS pathway inhibitor designed to protect retinal cells. The Food and Drug Administration has already given the therapy an orphan drug designation.
Retinal detachments affect 50,000 people each year in the United States, most of them over age 50. ONL 1204 is being developed as an intravitreal injection aimed at blocking photoreceptor cells from dying before surgery to reattach the retina. Death of these cells is a root cause of vision loss.
“Our goal is to get ONL 1204 drug injected into the patient’s eye as quickly as possible to shut off the FAS pathway and stop the cell death, which should allow much better visual outcomes in retinal detachment surgery,” said Zacks, professor of ophthalmology at Kellogg Eye Center and co-founder and chief science officer of ONL Therapeutics.
ONL Therapeutics was founded in 2011 and is pioneering new approaches to preserving sight.
The new funds will also support the broadening of the company research of ONL 1204 into other retinal diseases with significant unmet need.