NEW YORK – Ray Therapeutics has raised $100 million in an upsized and oversubscribed Series A financing round and will use the funds to advance its pipeline of gene therapies for diseases that cause blindness.
The funding round was led by Novo Holdings, and included contributions from 4BIO Capital, Deerfield Management, Norwest Venture Partners, Platanus, MRL Ventures Fund, and the therapeutics-focused corporate venture fund of Merck. 4BIO Capital in January 2022 also led a $6 million seed investment in the San Diego-based optogenetic therapy company.
Dima Kuzmin, managing partner at 4BIO Capital, said in a statement that investors have been impressed with the "mutation-independent nature" of Ray Therapeutics' gene therapy development approach.
The company is developing therapies that deliver a gene to the eye that retinal cells then use to make a light-sensitive protein. "The light entering the eye triggers the optogenetic protein to produce a visual signal that is sent to the brain to 'see,'" the company explains on its website. The company is specifically focused on advancing next-generation genotype-independent therapies that restore vision in patients with retinal diseases characterized by the loss of photoreceptors such as retinitis pigmentosa, retinal dystrophies, and macular degeneration.
Ray Therapeutics plans to soon start clinical testing of its lead candidate, RTx-015, in patients with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic degenerative disease that affects around 100,000 people in the US and causes partial or complete blindness. More than 100 genetic mutations are known to cause retinitis pigmentosa, but Ray Therapeutics is hoping to treat the disease with RTx-015 in a genotype-agnostic manner.
In parallel with the financing, Ray Camahort, a partner at Venture Investments at Novo Holdings, Tiba Aynechi, a general partner at Norwest Venture Partners, and Hannah Chang, managing director at Platanus, will join Ray Therapeutics' board of directors. Brian Chow, principal at Deerfield, and Jason Ruth, partner at MRL Ventures Fund, will join Ray Therapeutics' board observers. 4BIO's Kuzmin is also a member of Ray Therapeutics' board.