Eye disorders biopharma Ocugen raised $7.5 million in a Series B round of fundraising to support development of its clinical and preclinical pipeline of treatments for sight-threatening diseases. The financing was led by Turkish pharma firm Abdi Ibrahim and Kazakhstan-based JSC Lancaster Group. Current investors Frank Leo and Dr. John Zhang also participated. Ocugen closed a $6 million Series A round of fundraising in December 2016.

Ocugen is developing a pipeline of drugs that activate novel biologic pathways to treat inflammatory, degenerative, and neovascular eye diseases. Lead candidate, OCU300, has an established safety track record in ocular indications, and is being developed as a repurposed drug under FDA’s 505(b)(2) pathway, for treating ocular graft versus host disease (oGvHD), a disorder for which there is currently no indicated therapy. The firm licensed OCU300 from the University of Illinois in February 2016 for oGvHD and other dry eye diseases. Ocugen says an exploratory observational study has previously indicated that OCU300 improved symptoms in approximately 90% of patients with oGvHD. A Phase III study with OCU300 is projected to start during the first half of 2018.

Ocugen’s OCU100 is a preclinical-stage recombinant form of lens epithelium-derived growth factor, which is in development for treating degenerative eye diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and geographic atrophy. OCU100 has been granted orphan drug status by the FDA for the RP indication. A second preclinical candidate, OCU200, is a fusion protein based on tumstatin and transferrin that is in development for treating neovascular diseases, including wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. Ocugen says tests in established models of neovascular disease indicated that OCU200 was more effective than anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) therapy. Phase I clinical studies with OCU100 and OCU200 are projected to start next year.