US company chooses Australia for trials

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Okogen, a San Diego developer of ophthalmic anti-infective drugs, has received $13 million in Series A Funding from Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) to advance its viral conjunctivitis treatment.

The investment will see Okogen undertake further clinical research and Phase 2 trials at hospitals across New South Wales and throughout Australia.

The New South Wales Department of Health has played a key role in bringing the Okogen clinical trials to the state. Clinical trials are expected to commence midway through 2018.

The investment will go towards the ongoing development of Okogen’s lead candidate, OKG-0301, an ophthalmic formulation of ranpirnase, a potent ribonuclease with established broad-spectrum antiviral properties.

Adenoviral conjunctivitis, the initial clinical indication under development, is the number one cause of eye infections globally. The infection affects millions of people each year and, with no approved therapies, remains a significant unmet medical need throughout the world.

“Our investment into Okogen will go towards developing a treatment for viral conjunctivitis, the leading form of acute conjunctivitis which affects more than 2 percent of the world’s population,” said Okogen Board director and MRCF investment manager, Chris Smith.

Australia has some of the world’s most talented clinicians and researchers. When paired with the federal government’s R&D tax incentive, access to patients for clinical trials, and the ability to undertake clinical trials quickly, it makes the country very attractive for Okogen and other international life science companies,” said Mr Smith.

Professor Stephanie Watson of the Sydney Eye Hospital and Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney, will be the principal investigator. An ophthalmic surgeon specialising in cataract, corneal and laser surgery, Professor Watson's expertise will be a fundamental part of developing life-changing ocular infection solutions.

“This investment enables Okogen to drive OKG-0301 through clinic studies and provide evidence as to its efficacy in the treatment of ophthalmic viral infections,” said Okogen CEO Brian Strem. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to work with the depth of resources and talent at Brandon Capital to enhance Okogen’s ability to successfully drive the development of OKG-0301.”