Aerie Pharmaceuticals closes $30 million Series B financing

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Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc, a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of medical innovations in ophthalmology, today announced the closing of a $30 million Series B financing. Clarus Ventures and Sofinnova Ventures co-led the round, with participation from Osage University Partners, and existing investors Alta Partners and TPG Biotech.

Aerie expects to use proceeds from this financing to fund continued development of Aerie's broad product portfolio in glaucoma and advance the company's lead product, AR-12286, a first-in-class selective Rho-kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, into Phase 3 trials by the end of 2011.  AR-12286 is designed to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) by improving outflow of fluid via the trabecular pathway.  Aerie reported positive top-line data from a Phase 2b trial with AR-12286 last September. Additional Phase 2 studies are planned for 2011 to further elucidate the unique clinical benefits of AR-12286.

"We are gratified and encouraged by this strong show of support from an outstanding group of leading life sciences investors," said Tom van Haarlem, MD, President and CEO of Aerie. "Glaucoma is still the second leading cause of visual disability and blindness in the world today. We are excited about the potential for Aerie's compounds to offer multiple, improved and differentiated treatment options for millions of patients suffering from this widespread, degenerative disease."

In conjunction with the financing, Dennis Henner, PhD, Managing Director at Clarus Ventures, joined Aerie's Board of Directors.  Anand Mehra, MD, Partner at Sofinnova Ventures joined the board in September of 2010.

"The more we learn about the unique, clinical benefits of AR-12286, the more enthusiastic we are about its prospects as an important and differentiated glaucoma treatment, both as monotherapy and in combination with existing glaucoma drugs," said Dr. Henner. "Aerie is a leader in the field of ophthalmology with their portfolio of innovative glaucoma products, and we feel privileged to contribute to that success."

"Despite the fact that glaucoma is a progressive disease, there has not been a drug with a new mechanism of action approved in the glaucoma field since the mid-nineties," said Dr. Mehra. "Patients often need several drugs to control their disease, and physicians have limited options with these older mechanisms. We believe that AR-12286's new MOA, strong efficacy, excellent tolerability, and once daily dosing can provide real value to patients at risk of losing their vision."

In addition to Aerie's lead program, the company is also pursuing several pipeline programs including, AR-13324, the first of a novel glaucoma drug class discovered at Aerie with a unique dual-mechanism. A platform technology of conjunctival inserts is also being advanced to the clinic.  This innovative technology is targeting a mechanism for long-term delivery of drugs that has the potential to offer efficacy comparable to daily prescription eye drops, while addressing the therapeutic challenges involved with patient compliance in glaucoma therapy.

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