Devices & Diagnostics

Clearside raises $4M for targeted drug delivery system and new eye drug

Ophthalmic startup Clearside Biomedical has launched with a $4 million initial round of investment for the company to continue R&D on its lead drug candidate and a novel drug delivery system that could administer that drug in hard to access regions of the eye. Clearside is headquartered in Atlanta but will maintain research operations in […]

Ophthalmic startup Clearside Biomedical has launched with a $4 million initial round of investment for the company to continue R&D on its lead drug candidate and a novel drug delivery system that could administer that drug in hard to access regions of the eye.

Clearside is headquartered in Atlanta but will maintain research operations in Durham, North Carolina. The series A round funding was led by Durham, North Carolina venture capital firm Hatteras Venture Partners. The investment came from the firm’s Hatteras Discovery Fund, the seed stage fund launched last year to support life sciences companies challeged to bridge the financing gap often called “the valley of death.”

Clearside will direct the investment toward development of its novel microinjection drug delivery platform. The company’s microneedle technology allows for delivery of drugs and proteins to the retina and other hard to access parts of the eye. Right now, drugs can be delivered to the back of the eye in three indirect ways: injections, eye drops and pills. The microneedle targeted drug delivery technology was developed through collaborations between researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Emory University School of Medicine.

The company is also developing drug candidate CLS1001, which is being studied as a treatment for macular edema and retinal vein occlusion. Both conditions are commonly associated with diabetes and can lead to blindness. The drug candidate is expected to be in clinical trials within 18 months.

Clearside’s founders include Benjamin Yerxa, former head of R&D for Inspire Pharmaceuticals, a Durham eye treatments drug company that was acquired last year by Merck (NYSE:MRK). The company’s CEO is Daniel White, a pharmaceutical industry veteran who most recently was an executive at GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK’s) dermatology subsidiary Stiefel Laboratories.

With the funding, Hatteras places two members on Clearsides board of directors: Clay Thorp and Christy Shaffer. Shaffer, former CEO of Inspire Pharmaceuticals and head of Hatteras Discovery, will chair Clearside’s board of directors.

Photo from Flickr user orangeacid