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Exonate closes successful funding round – to develop eye drops treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD)

Posted on 30 Nov 2016

Cambridge, UK. Wednesday 30th November 2016 – Exonate, an early stage biotechnology company, today announced they have successfully closed their latest funding round.

This is Exonate’s third Angel round and is bolstered by further investment from the Angel Co Fund. The funding round also welcomed new investment from Australian venture fund Uniseed; University of Bristol Enterprise Fund, managed by Parkwalk; Martlet of Cambridge; Wren Capital as well as further Angel Investors and O2h Ventures. This brings the total amount raised at this round by Exonate to just under £1,500,000.

The investment will be used to accelerate the development of Exonate’s first therapeutic area of interest – an eye drop for the treatment of wet Age-related Macular Degeneration as a much needed alternative to the current treatment by eye injections.

Exonate was delighted with the level of interest in this round. The company’s strategy is to maintain its focus on topical delivery of ophthalmology products for diseases of the back of the eye and to expand its science base to address other disease areas including cancer. Exonate believes that its approach to wet AMD can provide significant improvements for patients in both efficacy of drug and a reduction in unpleasant injections into the eye. By leveraging the truly global span of this investment Exonate will become a successful company making scientific progress on three continents.

Exonate has an experienced international management team, with a wealth of clinical and start-up experience.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Catherine Beech, CEO of Exonate, said:

“I am very pleased at the successful close of this funding round. Exonate’s early data is very promising and we have a clear aspiration to successfully deliver medicines in areas of unmet need. The funding will enable us to progress our currents programmes to develop drugs that can be easily administered as eye drops, improve adherence and benefit patients.”

Peter Cowley at Martlet, the corporate angel fund of the £2bn Marshall of Cambridge aerospace and automotive engineering company added:

“Martlet is pleased to add Exonate to our 35+ early stage investments. The experienced management team and board, together with a Cambridge base, fits ideally within our investment criteria.”

Dr Peter Devine, CEO of Uniseed commented:

“Uniseed is pleased to be investing in Exonate which was formed on the basis of a medicinal chemistry programme at the University of New South Wales and cutting edge translational research from the Universities of Bristol and Nottingham. Exonate’s novel small molecule approach to treating age related macular degeneration has the potential to have a significant clinical impact on patients who suffer from this disease, and increasing incidence with an aging population.”

Alun Williams, Investment Director at Parkwalk Advisors added:

“We are delighted to support this innovative Bristol University spin-out. Their science is exciting with a number of attractive applications potentially leading to big improvements in efficiency and patient experience. We see it as an excellent investment opportunity for the Fund.”

Sunil Shah, Chairman of Exonate further added:

“We would like to thank our new and existing investors including our highly supportive Business Angels for their investment. Without their involvement Exonate’s scientific innovations would not be able to benefit patients with wet AMD or in the future potential patients with Cancer, Fibrosis and diseases of the Kidney.”


Exonate Limited
Tel:  +44 (0) 1223 437042
Louise Shave, Marketing

FTI Consulting
Tel:  +44 (0) 20 3727 1000
Mo Noonan / Lucy McKeone

About Exonate

Exonate is a privately held, early stage, biotech company spun out of the University of Nottingham that is focused on Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in areas of unmet need, such as ophthalmology, pain, nephropathy and cancer.  Exonate’s lead programme is focused on Diabetic macular oedema (DME). A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DME is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula and wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 and older.  The Company is founded on scientific excellence with strong links to Professor David Bates and his lab at Nottingham University specialising in the biology and biochemical pathways of VEGF splice variants.

Exonate have developed small molecules that inhibit production of pro-angiogenic VEGF through selective inhibition of serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (SRPK1)-mediated VEGF splicing.  These inhibitors have already demonstrated superior efficacy as topical agents in preclinical models of wet AMD.  Through a Wellcome Trust funded project, Exonate will complete an optimisation programme to nominate a pre-clinical candidate drug with optimal characteristics ahead of regulatory toxicology and safety pharmacology studies which will support an application to the regulatory authorities for clinical evaluation.  Exonate expects to reach this milestone and enter the clinic in early 2020.

Exonate is led by an experienced, international management team that has previously worked together with cross-disciplinary experience in medicine and drug development, as well as successful fundraising for early stage companies.

About Diabetic macular oedema (DME)*

DME is the build-up of fluid (oedema) in a region of the retina called the macula. The macula is important for the sharp, straight-ahead vision that is used for reading, recognising faces, and driving. DME is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetic retinopathy. About half of all people with diabetic retinopathy will develop DME and although it is more likely to occur as diabetic retinopathy worsens, DME can happen at any stage of the disease.

About wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD)

Today, wAMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 years or older and affects more than 30 million patients worldwide, over 200,000 of those in the UK alone. If untreated patients are likely to lose sight in the affected eye within 24 months of disease onset.

The current standard-of-care treatment options for DME and wAMD are

Anti-VEGF antibody drugs – to prevent the growth of new blood vessels in the Unlike small molecule drugs or eye drops, these treatments must be injected into the eye once every 1-2 months.  Resistance can develop to these drugs causing the disease to progress anew.
Laser surgery – to destroy abnormal blood vessels in the eye. This type of surgery is only suitable if blood vessel damage is not too extensive and if the abnormal blood vessels aren’t close to the fovea, as performing surgery close to this part of the eye can cause permanent vision.
With DME, Corticosteroids either injected or implanted into the eye, may be used alone or in combination with other drugs or laser surgery to treat DME


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