They made the first anti-VEGF drug 20+ years ago. Now two longtime partners have $65M to spot new eye drugs – Endpoints News

Almost 30 years ago, when David Guyer and Anthony Adamis were still medical school professors — at New York University and Harvard, respectively — the duo began working together on ways to prevent vision loss by blocking the formation of blood vessels in the eye. Their work ultimately culminated in the first ever intraocular anti-VEGF injection, approved by the FDA in 2004 for wet age-related macular degeneration.
They sold their company, Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, and the drug for $650 million the next year, and went on to separate paths — although still in the ophthalmology field.
Until last August, that was.
Guyer, who had left another biotech he co-founded and rejoined SV Health Investors as a venture partner, regrouped with Adamis to take another shot at developing treatments for eye diseases.
Having provided seed funding and helped staff the team, SV is now leading a $65 million Series A for the plainly named EyeBio (SV was also one of the founders and earliest backers of Eyetech).
Jeito Capital and Samsara Capital are the other key players from the syndicate, with MRL Ventures adding to the pool.
While details are sparse, it appears that EyeBio’s initial focus will be on licensing or acquiring external programs to assemble a pipeline that promises to “protect, restore, and improve vision for people who are underserved by available eye disease therapies.”
Clinical trials will then be primarily conducted in the UK, even though the biotech has presence in both London and New York.
“Success requires an ability to execute and deliver new therapies with speed and quality. EyeBio has the talent, skillset, and willingness to introduce new solutions to address familiar problems,” said Adamis, who was in charge of a number of candidates as SVP of development innovation at Roche’s Genentech, including the recently approved Vabysmo (faricimab).
Adamis is chairing the advisory board while Guyer takes up the president and CEO role.
As their previous experience showed, though, successfully developing a drug is different from finding a market for it. Macugen (pegaptanib), the breakthrough drug Guyer and Adamis developed, saw its sales wither after Genentech and Pfizer brought rival treatments to patients. Six years after Eyetech got acquired for $650 million, it was resold for a meager $22 million.
But this time around two execs will be flanked by others who may be more familiar with the commercialization process, including COO Sarah Milsom, a former consultant who most recently worked at Touchlight Genetics; CMO Jonathan Prenner, a retinal specialist at Rutgers; SVP of clinical development Divya Chadha Manek, who led business development and marketing for the UK’s National Institute of Health Research; Paul Stephens, SVP of chemistry, manufacturing and controls, who jumps from UCB; and Sam Smart, VP of finance, hailing from Artios.
Jeito’s Andreas Wallnoefer (who worked alongside Guyer on Roche’s R&D exec team), Samsara managing general partner Srinivas Akkaraju and SV managing partner Mike Ross are on the board of directors, which is chaired by SV managing partner Kate Bingham.
One of the most notable early uses of the term “decentralized clinical trials” came from the presiding FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, in a January 2019 speech, where he noted that decentralization can, “help clinical trials become agile and efficient by reducing the administrative burdens on sponsors and those conducting trials, and can allow patients to receive treatments from community providers without compromising the quality of the trial or the integrity of the data being collected,”¹
Back in June, disgruntled Celgene shareholders filed a lawsuit against Bristol Myers Squibb, accusing the pharma giant of purposely slow-rolling Breyanzi’s approval to avoid making a $6.4 billion contingent value rights (CVR) payout tied to its big Celgene acquisition.
Now, eight unidentified witnesses are coming forth to detail “a series of deliberate or reckless acts” they say BMS took to slam the brakes on what they say could have been an otherwise swift approval for Breyanzi.
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When Leif Johansson took the chairman’s spot at AstraZeneca in 2012, the company was a mess. David Brennan had just been pushed out of the CEO’s job. The pipeline was easily the worst in Big Pharma. And they needed a new CEO who could begin to put things back together.
To top it all off, Pfizer would soon come calling with an offer to buy out the company for $118 billion — and quite a few of its investors thought that looked pretty sweet.
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If you’re at all familiar with the biotech space, you’ve probably heard of the promises of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
These promises have been tantalizing. AI and ML can, proponents claim, help researchers speed along the arduous and expensive drug development process. By attempting to utilize algorithms and computing power so dynamic as to essentially eliminate menial tasks and trial and error altogether, the technology comes with big expectations likening it to a new industrial revolution.
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AstraZeneca has racked up a crucial Phase III win for its megablockbuster prospect Enhertu — one that could push the drug to unchartered places currently unreachable for its peers.
For a while now, the pharma giant has been talking about how its third-gen antibody drug conjugate, developed in a $6.9 billion partnership with Daiichi Sankyo, could do a better job going after tumors marked by various levels of HER2 expression — even those that would traditionally be described as “HER2-low.”
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A pair of environment, social and governance (ESG) news reports this week point out the emphasis pharma is putting on sustainability efforts thanks to increasing demands from investors and consumers.
Amgen debuted its first-ever green funding — a $750 million bond earmarked for environmental projects including green buildings, renewable energy and clean transportation — on Tuesday, while Merck dialed up investors for a first-ever briefing on its ESG efforts on Wednesday.
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As Congress preps to re-authorize the next round of biosimilar user fees before the end of September, an independent assessor’s final report from BsUFA II shows that the FDA’s new review process for biosimilar applications did enhance the predictability of the reviews and helped FDA conduct more first-cycle reviews more efficiently.
With an additional two months to complete the biosimilar reviews under BsUFA II, FDA’s first-cycle approval rate has been higher in BsUFA II when compared to previous years, although it’s unclear if that difference is statistically significant, according to the final report from Eastern Research Group, an independent contractor enlisted to assess FDA’s biosimilars program.
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Spark Therapeutics made history at the FDA by winning the first-ever approval for a gene therapy, when the agency greenlighted Luxturna in late 2017. But the company and its founding CEO are preparing to turn a new leaf.
Jeff Marrazzo, Spark’s chief executive since its founding in 2013, will step down from his post on April 1, the biotech announced Wednesday morning. COO Ron Philip was tapped to succeed him after a transition period, and told Endpoints News he had planned to leave the company once its future with Roche was secure.
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Just weeks after Merck KGaA reorganized its CDMO and contract testing unit around the $780 million buyout of LNP player Exelead, the pharma player has now closed the deal and rolled out plans to invest more than a half-billion dollars in the new ops to build up their mRNA offerings in a fast-expanding sector of the market.
The investment — slated to take 10 years — will ensure that its customers have comprehensive CDMO services across the mRNA value chain, it said. Exelead specializes in PEGylated products lipid nanoparticle-based drug delivery tech, which is a key element of Covid-19 vaccines, among others. Merck KGaA also acquired manufacturer AmpTec in 2020. Between those two additions, the team expects to speed up its ability to bring vaccines and treatments to patients.
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