U-M startup ViewPoint Therapeutics raises $35 Million in Series B financing
ViewPoint Therapeutics, Inc., a privately-held biotechnology company pioneering the development of crystallin stabilizers to prevent and treat cataracts and presbyopia, today announced the closing of a $35 million Series B financing. The financing was led by The Rise Fund with participation from Novo Holdings A/S. Additional participants included ViewPoint’s existing investors, Biotechnology Value Fund, L.P. and certain of its affiliates, Mission Bay Capital, LLC, Lagunita BioSciences LLC, the University of Michigan through its MINTS initiative, which is part of the endowment’s venture capital portfolio, and Ed Hurwitz, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Company. In conjunction with this financing, the Company has expanded its Board of Directors to include Heath Lukatch, Ph.D., Partner at TPG, and Peter Moldt, Partner at Novo Holdings A/S.
“Cataracts remain the world’s leading cause of blindness, and this financing will meaningfully advance our efforts to develop and commercialize a groundbreaking treatment,” commented Leah Makley, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ViewPoint. “The high level of interest in our Series B from reputable life science investors, as well as the company’s existing investors, is a testament to the progress we’ve made to date and the promise ViewPoint’s approach holds. I am especially honored to have Heath and Peter join our Board of Directors; their involvement further strengthens the outstanding team of individuals helping shepherd ViewPoint’s technology forward.”
ViewPoint plans to use the proceeds of the financing to develop its lead product candidate, VP1-001, through clinical proof-of-concept studies in patients with cataracts and presbyopia. In addition, ViewPoint anticipates that the proceeds will also allow the Company to advance second-generation compounds from its ongoing medicinal chemistry efforts.
“ViewPoint is the world leader in targeting the stabilization of misfolded crystallin proteins as a non-surgical means of preventing vision loss associated with presbyopia and cataracts,” said Dr. Lukatch. “ViewPoint’s product has the potential to disrupt the current surgical paradigm for patients with cataracts and to provide a safe and accessible alternative to patients in the developing world where surgery is not available. This potential to substantially impact society is a perfect fit for The Rise Fund.”
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Cataracts cause vision loss or vision impairment in approximately 50 percent of people over age 70 and are the leading cause of blindness in the world. Epidemiologic models estimate that approximately 15 million people in the world are blind due to untreated cataracts, with an additional 85 million suffering from low vision.
Presbyopia is age-related farsightedness caused by the loss of lens elasticity. It first affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 50, initially causing blurred vision, difficulty seeing in dim light, and eye strain.
About ViewPoint Therapeutics
ViewPoint is a preclinical-stage biotechnology company passionately committed to the discovery, development, and commercialization of treatments for diseases of protein misfolding, which is implicated in numerous common disorders of aging including cataracts and presbyopia. The Company was founded in 2014 based on technology developed in the lab of ViewPoint co-founder, Dr. Jason Gestwicki, at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Usha Andley at Washington University in St. Louis. ViewPoint has a world-class Scientific Advisory Board with decades of experience in the fields of protein misfolding, crystallin biology, cataract etiology and medicinal chemistry. Targeting α-crystallin, a genetically validated target that drives cataract pathology and presbyopia, ViewPoint is developing VP1-001, a small molecule that is active in preclinical models of age-related cataracts. VP1-001 is the first preclinical candidate from ViewPoint’s discovery engine. For more information, please visit www.viewpointtherapeutics.com.
About The Rise Fund
The Rise Fund is a global fund committed to achieving measurable, positive social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns —what we call “complete returns.” The Rise Fund is managed by TPG Growth, the global growth equity and middle market buyout platform of alternative asset firm TPG. The Rise Fund was co-founded by TPG Growth Founder and Managing Partner Bill McGlashan, U2 lead singer Bono, a well-known activist and a special partner with TPG Growth, and Jeff Skoll, a global entrepreneur, film producer, and impact investor. They were joined by a group of influential thought leaders with a deep personal and professional commitment to driving social and environmental progress, who came together to form the Founders Board. The Rise Fund’s objectives align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Rise Fund invests in education, energy, food and agriculture, financial services, growth infrastructure, healthcare, technology, media and telecommunications companies that deliver complete returns.