KalVista Pharmaceuticals, which focuses on diabetic macular edema (DME), raised £8 million in a series A round from Novo and SV Life Sciences. The company is developing novel, small molecule plasma kallikrein inhibitors.
The firm’s pipeline is at the preclinical stage. It targets both intravitreal injection and oral administration routes. KalVista acquired these inhibitors plus all relevant intellectual property from Vantia Therapeutics.
Plasma kallikrein is a circulating serine protease that represents an attractive drug target as it is believed to be central to the pathogenesis of DME within the diseased retina but is not essential for normal function. The detrimental effects of plasma kallikrein on the retina occur independently of VEGF, which has been an area of intense recent interest as a target for treating DME.
However, while intravitreal VEGF inhibitors have shown clear benefit in clinical trials through reducing macular edema and increasing visual acuity, a large proportion of DME patients do not respond fully to VEGF treatment, according to KalVista.