VivaVision Biopharma, a Shanghai-based novel drug developer, undertook its Series C funding round worth CNY 65 million on September 26. The company hopes to ramp up its research efforts to treat dry eye syndrome (DES), a disorder that affects approximately 17% of adults in China.
The company's flagship project VVN001 is a 2nd generation LFA1 inhibitor, aiming to achieve a faster onset of efficacy with less eye irritation. The project is expected to move to the stage of the first-in-human dosing in 2019, the drug developer has been claiming. However, it hasn't been carried out yet.
The prevalence of dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is expected to increase as Chinese society ages. Dry eye disease is characterized by insufficient moisture and lubrication in the anterior surface of the eye, leading to dryness, inflammation and ultimately discomfort. In severe cases, it leads to vision loss.
So far, only two drugs have been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of dry eye disease. Initially developed by SARcode Bioscience, Xiidra is one of the widely-used FDA cleared drugs in the treatment of the DES. In 2019, Novartis announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets associated with Xiidra and stated that “Xiidra achieved USD 0.4 billion of revenue in 2018 and is well-positioned for blockbuster potential.”
However, Chinese regulators have yet to provide clearance for any ‘Made in China’ drug for the treatment of DES.
The founder of VivaVision Dr Chen Wang (沈旺), an industry veteran in drug development with over 20 years of experience, is optimistic about the near future of China's novel drug development scene. “I would expect that the current friendly atmosphere created by CFDA will exist around 5 to 10 more years,” he told to iyiou.com, the sister publication of EqualOcean. The CFDA clearance will be the most crucial step for the company to develop into a Xiidra challenger in the near future.