Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm Opthea has received commitments to raise A$50m ($33.7m) for the development of OPT-302 as a therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

The company will issue 18.9 million shares at A$2.65 per share to sophisticated and institutional investors in Australia and the UK.

Opthea will use the funds for the late-stage clinical development of OPT-302 for retinal eye diseases, such as wet AMD.

The company will also use the proceeds for the manufacture of adequate quantities of clinical-grade OPT-302 for Phase III clinical development and the start of two concurrent Phase III pivotal registrational trials in wet AMD patients.

Opthea CEO and managing director Megan Baldwin said: “This institutional placement of A$50m at this time strengthens Opthea’s cash position as we explore a number of strategic development opportunities, and enables the company to fund its operations into the first half of calendar year 2021.

“The completion of this placement will allow Opthea to expeditiously progress our Phase III clinical development program with OPT-302.”

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OPT-302 is a soluble form of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) that blocks the activity of VEGFC and VEGF-D proteins, which cause blood vessels to grow and leak.

In a Phase IIb trial of 366 treatment-naïve wet AMD patients, OPT-302 combination therapy showed statistically significant and superior gains in visual acuity compared to ranibizumab (Lucentis) monotherapy at 24 weeks.

Patients were randomised in 1:1:1 ratio to each of three treatment groups to investigate the clinical efficacy and safety of two doses of OPT-302 (0.5 mg and 2.0 mg) each in combination with ranibizumab (0.5 mg) compared to ranibizumab (0.5 mg) and sham injection.

Treatments were administered on a monthly basis for six months through sequential intravitreal (ocular) injection.

The trial was carried out at sites in the US, Europe, and Israel and is fully enrolled.