Business, Company, Macular disease, Therapies

Australian biotech raises an additional $50 million for AMD drug

Melbourne-based biotech company Opthea has announced it has secured commitments from both Australian and international investors for an additional $50 million to put towards the development of its treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

According to the company, the funding will be used to continue the late-stage clinical development of its leading drug candidate OPT-302. In particular, the company plans to use the funding to produce enough of the drug to conduct two concurrent Phase III registrational trials examining its effectiveness.

“This institutional placement of $50 million at this time strengthens Opthea’s cash position as we explore a number of strategic development opportunities, and enables the company to fund its operations into the first half of calendar year 2021,” Dr Megan Baldwin, CEO and managing director of Opthea, said.

“The completion of this placement will allow Opthea to expeditiously progress our Phase III clinical development program with OPT-302.”

As part of the fundraising the company will issue 18.9 million fully paid ordinary shares, representing approximately 7.5% of current issued capital.

Opthea’s lead drug candidate has had a notable 2019. In August the company revealed results from a Phase IIb clinical trial involving 366 treatment-naïve neovascular AMD patients. Those administered with OPT-302 alongside Novartis’ Lucentis, which is considered the current standard of care, gained 3.4 more letters of vision from baseline on a standardised eyechart at 24 weeks when compared to control patents who only received Lucentis.

The company has also expanded its clinical development program to test its drug candidate on diabetic macular edema (DME) patients. The Phase IIa trial is looking to examine the effectiveness of OPT-302 in combination with Bayer’s Eyela against a control group receiving just Eyela. Results are expected early next year.