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ONL Therapeutics Gets Federal Grant of $1 Million

Wednesday, March 22, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kate Oesterle
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Company also raises $1 million to fund drug for patients with retinal detachments


Ann Arbor-based ONL Therapeutics Inc., a pharmaceutical company developing therapies for preserving sight for those with a range of retinal diseases, announced Tuesday morning that it has been awarded a commercialization readiness grant of $1 million from the National Eye Institute to continue advancement of ONL1204, the company's lead drug candidate.

The drug is designed to protect retinal cells from damage in a range of diseases and conditions, including detached retinas. Death of these retinal cells is the leading cause of blindness. Even successful retinal reattachments often result in impaired vision. Animal trials show that ONL's drug protects photoreceptors in the eye between the time of the detachment and surgery.

Last year, the drug was granted orphan-drug status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, easing its path to market. Orphan-drug status is given to drugs that treat rare diseases or are for conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 in the U.S.

The grant from the NEI follows a fundraising of more than $1 million from previous and new investors, including Invest Michigan and the drug company Novartis.

"We are excited and grateful for this additional NEI grant funding as it allows ONL to build upon the promising preclinical work that we have conducted to date. The area of retinal cell protection represents a critical unmet medical need that we believe can have an important impact on the preservation of vision for patients with a range of ocular diseases and conditions," John Freshley, the company's CEO, said in a press release.

Cynthia Grosskreutz, M.D., the head of global translational medicine for ophthalmology at Novartis, has joined the ONL board of directors as an observer.

Previously, ONL, a 2014 spinoff from the University of Michigan, received $2 million in federal grants and raised a seed round of $1 million.

In 2014, ONL won $2,500 for having the best business plan for a startup at the annual MichBio Expo in Detroit.

View source article at Crain's Detroit Business here.

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