The o2h Therapeutics and AI Fund makes investment in early stage biotechnology company

Cambridge, UK, 28 March 2019. The o2h Therapeutics Fund & AI (“The Fund”), an early stage S/EIS fund investing in biotechnology therapeutic and related AI opportunities, is pleased to announce an investment in Exonate, an early stage biotechnology company.

The Fund participated in the fourth round of fundraising for Exonate, which has successfully raised £1.5 million. Other investors included: Angel CoFund; Australian venture fund Uniseed; University of Bristol Enterprise Fund, managed by Parkwalk; Martlet of Cambridge; Wren Capital; and further angel investors. Exonate has raised approximately £9 million in total to date.

The fundraising will be used to accelerate the development of Exonate’s lead product, an eye drop for the treatment of retinal neovascular diseases.

Sunil Shah, CEO of o2h Ventures, who manages The Fund alongside Prashant Shah, Managing Partner, said: “We are very pleased with this investment, the fund’s third, and are delighted to join other leading investors in this round. Exonate’s strategy is to introduce a revolutionary, game-changing topical eye drop for the treatment of retinal vascular diseases”.

“The company has already achieved a key milestone with the nomination of its preferred compound for pre-clinical development and this should enter clinical trials in 2020.”

Dr Catherine Beech, CEO of Exonate, added: “Sunil Shah has been the Chairman of Exonate since its incorporation and we are now delighted to have the o2h Therapeutics Fund as an investor. The Fund has deep working relationship within the pharmaceutical industry which can be leveraged to our shareholders’ advantage.”

The Fund is in the process of making further investments in some of the sector’s most exciting early-stage biotechnology companies.

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Editor’s Notes

About o2h Ventures:

o2h Ventures Limited has launched the o2h Therapeutics fund which is the first S/EIS fund in the UK solely focused on early stage biotech therapeutics and related AI opportunities. The geographic scope shall be UK wide including Oxford and London but will target the growing Cambridge biotech cluster. The Fund is structured to be S/EIS compliant providing tax breaks for UK taxpayers.

The biotech sector is one of the leading sectors in the UK economy. The large pharma companies now rely on the small innovative biotech’s for new ideas in disease areas such as cancer, genomics, anti-ageing and neurosciences amongst others which has led to higher potential exit valuations. The Fund will widen the community of investors that will help expand early stage research in the UK.

The o2h team are leaders in the biotech community and have been actively involved as investors, holding various board/industry positions as well as being engaged in grassroots scientific activity for over 20 years. o2h operate from their proprietary 2.7 acre o2h SciTech Park where they are developing a unique model for incubating small life science companies.

More information is available here: http://www.o2h.com/ventures

Contact:

Ajit Singh

Marketing and PR, o2h Ventures Ltd

ajit@o2h.com

About Exonate:

Exonate is a privately held, early stage, biotech company spun out of the University of Nottingham that is focused on alternative splicing of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in ophthalmology. Exonate’s lead programme is focused on Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO). A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DMO, is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula and wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD), which is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 and older. The Company is founded on scientific excellence with strong links to Professor David Bates and his lab at Nottingham University specialising in the biology and biochemical pathways of VEGF splice variants.

Exonate have developed small molecules that inhibit production of pro-angiogenic VEGF through selective inhibition of serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (SRPK1)-mediated VEGF splicing. These inhibitors have already demonstrated superior efficacy as topical agents in preclinical models of wet AMD. Through a Wellcome Trust funded project, Exonate will complete an optimisation programme to nominate a pre-clinical candidate drug with optimal characteristics ahead of regulatory toxicology and safety pharmacology studies which will support an application to the regulatory authorities for clinical evaluation. Exonate expects to reach this milestone and enter the clinic in early 2020.

Exonate is led by an experienced, international management team that has previously worked together with cross-disciplinary experience in medicine and drug development, as well as successful fundraising for early stage companies.

About Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO)*:

DMO is the build-up of fluid (Oedema) in a region of the retina called the macula. The macula is important for the sharp, straight-ahead vision that is used for reading, recognising faces, and driving. DMO is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetic retinopathy. About half of all people with diabetic retinopathy will develop DMO and although it is more likely to occur as diabetic retinopathy worsens, DMO can happen at any stage of the disease.

About wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wet AMD):

Today, wet AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 years or older and affects more than 30 million patients worldwide, over 200,000 of those in the UK alone. If untreated patients are likely to lose sight in the affected eye within 24 months of disease onset.

The main currently available treatment options for DMO and wet AMD are:

anti-VEGF antibody drugs – to prevent the growth of new blood vessels in the eye. Unlike small molecule drugs or eye drops these treatments must be injected into the eye once every 1 or 2 months. Resistance can develop to these drugs causing the disease to progress anew.

Laser surgery – to destroy abnormal blood vessels in the eye. This type of surgery is only suitable if blood vessel damage is not too extensive and if the abnormal blood vessels aren't close to the fovea, as performing surgery close to this part of the eye can cause permanent vision loss.

With DMO, Corticosteroids either injected or implanted into the eye, may be used alone or in combination with other drugs or laser surgery to treat DMO.

*source: https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy

More information is available here: http://www.exonate.com

Image source: https://www.exonate.com


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About o2h Ventures Ltd

o2h Ventures Limited is an Investment Firm based in Cambridge, UK. Fund Managers include Sunil Shah and Prashant Shah, serial entrepreneurs with over 15 years of experience in life science, pharma, and investment management- with a history of successful exit. o2h Ventures came into being during 2013.