Funding to Support Further Development of Innovative Dry Eye Compound

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Dry eye syndrome can be debilitating. It occurs when the eye is unable to maintain a healthy layer of tears to coat itself.

The development of SAR 1118, a compound for the treatment of dry eye syndrome, by SARcode Bioscience, Inc., a privately-held biopharmaceutical company, has received $44 million Series B private equity financing.

SARcode Bioscience made the announcement of the funding today. The financing is led by Sofinnova Ventures and augmented by Rho Ventures and existing investors Alta Partners and Clarus Venture Partners.

Garheng Kong, General Partner of Sofinnova Ventures commented, "We believe that SARcode is uniquely positioned to make significant breakthroughs in the treatment of dry eye that could improve therapeutic options for millions of patients."

SARcode plans to initiate pivotal Phase 3 clinical studies with SAR 1118 in the second half of 2011. SAR 1118 is a first-in-class, topical small-molecule integrin antagonist that inhibits T-cell mediated inflammation, a key component of dry eye.

In a Phase 2 randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 230 subjects with dry eye disease, SAR 1118 demonstrated an improvement in corneal staining at 12 weeks and an increase in tear production as early as 2 weeks. In addition, subjects receiving SAR 1118 reported dose-dependent improvements in visual-related function at 12 weeks, which included the ability to read, drive at night, use a computer and watch television. SAR 1118 was well tolerated. Ocular adverse events were mostly mild, transient and related to initial instillation of the drug.

"We are extremely pleased with this financing, and are grateful for the confidence and trust from such renowned life-science investors," said Quinton Oswald, Chief Executive Officer of SARcode Bioscience. "In the US alone, the current dry eye market potential is over $1 billion. This is expected to grow substantially in the next decade due to an aging population and increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, both of which contribute to higher rates of dry eye disease. There is clearly a large opportunity to develop therapeutic agents that can rapidly treat the signs of dry eye and improve symptomatic visual-related quality-of-life. With the support of our investors, we look forward to bringing this novel dry eye therapy to the market."

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[The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by Ramona Bates, MD) from materials provided by SARcode Bioscience, Inc.]

About Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is estimated to affect approximately 20 million people in the United States. DES occurs most commonly in those over 40 years of age. DES can affect any race and is more common in women than in men.

It often occurs in people who are otherwise healthy. In areas of the world where malnutrition is common, vitamin A deficiency is a cause. In rare cases, it can be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, and other similar diseases. It may also be caused by heat (thermal) or chemical burns.

DES results from either decreased tear production or excessive tear evaporation. Symptoms most commonly manifest as discomfort, visual disturbances, and tear film instability.

Treatments may include artificial tears, lubricating ointments (in more severe cases), medications (such as Restasis or topical corticosteroids), and tiny plugs placed in the tear drainage ducts to help the tears stay on the surface of the eye. Surgery may be used if the eyelids are in an abnormal position.

If you notice your eyes are dry mainly while you are reading , watching TV, or using the computer, taking frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest and become moist and comfortable again is helpful. Closing your eyes for 10 seconds every five to 10 minutes will increase your comfort, as will blinking more frequently.

Sources for Dry Eye Information:
PubMed Health: Dry Eye Syndrome
eMedicineHealth: Dry Eye Syndrome
American Optometric Association: Dry Eye Syndrome

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