Rare Daily Staff
Vedere Bio II, a company developing next generation ocular gene therapies designed for vision restoration and preservation for patients with vision loss due to photoreceptor death, said it completed its $77 million series A financing.
Founded by the leadership and research team behind the former Vedere Bio, which was acquired by Novartis in September 2020, Vedere Bio II will leverage its new, proprietary, mutation agnostic optogenetics technology to improve upon current gene therapies by restoring functional vision to patients.
Octagon Capital led the financing and was joined by new investors Samsara BioCapital and Casdin Capital, and Vedere’s founding investors, Atlas Venture, Mission BioCapital and the RD Fund, the venture arm of Foundation Fighting Blindness.
“The launch of Vedere Bio II represents a milestone moment in our work to restore vision to patients with both genetic and non-genetic causes of vision loss, and we are excited to work with both our new and founding investors to advance our pipeline,” said Cyrus Mozayeni, president and CEO of Vedere Bio II and entrepreneur in residence at Atlas Venture. “Our novel vision restoration approach targets underserved indications and holds great promise to restore lost vision, exceeding the limitations of traditional gene therapy which primarily aim to slow further vision loss.”
Vedere aims to increase the quality of vision restoration and preservation for all patients with vision loss due to photoreceptor death through delivery of novel payloads via proprietary intravitreally delivered AAV capsids. While most current gene therapies are targeted to specific gene mutations and only slow down vision loss, Vedere’s technology is mutation agnostic and has the potential to rapidly add new function regardless of disease stage.
The company says its approach is anticipated to have several distinct advantages over other optogenetics approaches, which could help patients see stationary and moving objects in both bright and dim settings without the need for a vision-enhancing medical device. The series A financing will be used to advance Vedere’s platform and therapeutic programs, attract talent and invest in research.
Vedere’s optogenetics-based platform is based on technology from the laboratories of Ehud Isacoff and John Flannery of UC Berkeley, and technology directed at enhanced ocular gene therapy delivery arising jointly between UC Berkeley and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The company’s pipeline includes treatments for inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) and geographic atrophy (GA), unbound by the specific underlying genetic cause. The therapies confer light sensing properties to cells downstream of photoreceptors, which are preserved in most IRDs and GA, therefore rapidly adding new function, regardless of disease stage.
“Vedere’s next generation optogenetic approach aims to make vision restoration and preservation a reality in largely underserved indications,” said Ben Yerxa, CEO of Foundation Fighting Blindness and the RD Fund. “Inherited retinal diseases and geographic atrophy affect over seven million people globally, and all of these patients deserve life-changing therapies. Vedere’s cutting-edge technology has the potential to dramatically expand the number of patients who can be treated for vision loss caused by photoreceptor cell death.”
Photo: Cyrus Mozayeni, president and CEO of Vedere Bio