Mucus-penetrating technology is designed to improve tissue targeting and reduce systemic exposure.

Kala Pharmaceuticals raised $6.2 million in an equity financing round with existing investors, completing its $11.2 million seed financing. The firm in addition reported the award of two separate NIH grants to support further development of its cystic fibrosis and ocular disease programs.

Kala is commercializing a mucus-penetrating particle technology to develop drugs against diseases affecting mucosal tissues. The technology was original developed at the laboratory of co-founder Justine Hanes, Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins University, and has been licensed exclusively to Kala. The firm says the platform markedly improves drug distribution and pharmacokinetics by uniformly coating the mucosal surface with biocompatible, drug-loaded particles. Resulting formulations are designed to achieve high, sustained local drug concentrations with reduced systemic exposure.

“We’ve demonstrated that Kala’s formulations of a wide range of therapeutic agents can penetrate and evenly distribute through human mucus secretions, including the exceptionally thick mucus found in cystic fibrosis,” remarks co-founder Colin Gardner, M.D. “Our goal is to develop therapies that lead to improved clinical outcomes for patients by overcoming the challenges posed by mucus barriers.”

Kala is exploiting the platform both for the development of an in-house pipeline of drugs and through R&D collaborations. “The combination of improved local efficacy and reduced systemic exposure using a biocompatible formulation opens up an array of potential product opportunities,” states Ronald Krall, M.D., one of Kala’s advisors. The firm says successful in vivo proof-of-concept studies have been completed for a range of mucosal organs including the respiratory tract, eye, and cervicovaginal tract.

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