Start-Up Previews (10/2011)
This Month's Profile Group: The New Ophthalmic Drug Players, features profiles of Imagen Biotech, KalVista Pharmaceuticals, ONL Therapeutics and Xcovery Vision. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, Aleva Neurotherapeutics, cermaVEIN and Flex Biomedical.
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There are a number of histone deacetylase inhibitors on the market and in development that regulate gene expression in normal as well as cancer cells but can lead to a number of serious side effects. Acetylon Pharmaceuticals Inc. is developing small-molecule compounds that selectively inhibit HD AC for the treatment of cancers as well as inflammatory neurodegenerative, genetic and infectious disease.
ONL Therapeutics LLC is developing an experimental drug to preserve sight in people with detached retinas and other retinal disorders. The start-up aims to leverage understanding about FAS, a cell-based receptor that is a key cause of cell death in photoreceptors. ONL’s small peptide is designed to block the FAS receptor on cells of the eye, to keep the natural ligand from binding and keep the cells alive.
Unmet medical need and market size continue to drive venture investors to ophthalmic drug plays focused on diseases that blind. This interest is fueled by a stable pool of acquirers and the ability to in-license innovative, clinically validated compounds, providing VCs with a jump start to a potential exit.