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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 14:25 EDT

KalVista Pharmaceuticals Launched With £8 Million in Series A Funding to Develop Novel Class of Drugs for Diabetic Macular Edema

August 23, 2011

SOUTHAMPTON, England, August 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –

KalVista Pharmaceuticals (“KalVista”), a new ophthalmology company with
a focus on diabetic macular edema (DME), has raised GBP8 million in a series
A round from leading life sciences investors Novo A/S and SV Life Sciences.

The Company is developing novel, small molecule plasma kallikrein
inhibitors, which represent a new approach to the treatment of DME, a
leading cause of adult visual loss in developed countries and a major unmet
medical need. KalVista’s advanced pre-clinical product pipeline is targeting
both intravitreal injection and oral administration routes. KalVista
acquired these inhibitors plus all relevant intellectual property from
Vantia Therapeutics.

KalVista’s scientific founders include world-leading experts in
ophthalmology, diabetes and diabetes-related complications, Dr Lloyd Paul
Aiello and Dr Edward P. Feener. Dr Aiello is Professor of Ophthalmology at
Harvard Medical School, Director of the Joslin’s Beetham Eye Institute and
Inaugural Chair of the National Eye Institute Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical
Research Network. Dr Feener is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard
Medical School and an Investigator in Vascular Cell Biology at the Joslin
Diabetes Center, where his team led the discovery of plasma kallikrein in
the vitreous fluid from people with DME and has shown that inhibition of
plasma kallikrein decreases pathological retinal vascular permeability in
pre-clinical studies. Dr Aiello has guided the clinical development programs
for a wide range of recent ophthalmology drugs, and has been a lead
investigator in the trials determining the benefit of VEGF (vascular
endothelial growth factor) inhibitors for the treatment of DME.

Plasma kallikrein is a circulating serine protease that represents an
attractive drug target as it is believed to be central to the pathogenesis
of DME within the diseased retina, but is not essential for normal function.
The detrimental effects of plasma kallikrein on the retina occur
independently of VEGF, which has been an area of intense recent interest as
a target for treating DME. However, while intravitreal VEGF inhibitors have
shown clear benefit in clinical trials through reducing macular edema and
increasing visual acuity, a large proportion of DME patients do not respond
fully to VEGF treatment. KalVista’s approach targeting plasma kallikrein
inhibition therefore has the potential to add to the treatment options for
sufferers of DME including those that are non-responsive to VEGF inhibitors.

KalVista is supporting the therapeutic expertise with a management team
with proven experience in bringing small molecules from discovery through
the clinic to commercialisation. This team is led by Andrew Crockett as CEO
and includes the former discovery group from Vantia Therapeutics. This group
developed the extensive library of proprietary plasma kallikrein inhibitors,
including the lead compounds that now form the basis of KalVista’s discovery
platform.

The KalVista board of directors will include Graham Boulnois of SV Life
Sciences as Chairman, Martin Edwards of Novo A/S as Non-executive Director
and Andrew Crockett as CEO.

Dr Lloyd Paul Aiello, Director of Joslin’s Beetham Eye Institute and
Co-founder of KalVista, commented on today’s announcement: “Diabetic macular
edema remains one of the major challenges in ophthalmology, and is a leading
cause of visual loss in the developed world. While new advances such as VEGF
inhibitors are a breakthrough in treatment, current evidence demonstrates
that a substantial number of patients with DME do not respond fully. I
believe KalVista’s approach, targeting a novel non-VEGF pathway, could
represent a further important step in treating this condition.”

Graham Boulnois of SV Life Sciences and Chairman of KalVista’s board of
directors, said: “The exciting discoveries regarding plasma kallikrein
inhibition and its potential as a new approach to treating DME have created
a significant opportunity. We believe that in KalVista we have put in place
all the necessary scientific, clinical and drug discovery and development
expertise, and sufficient funding, to capitalize on this opportunity and
create a highly differentiated and valuable company.”

Andrew Crockett, KalVista’s CEO, said: “I am delighted that KalVista has
garnered substantial financial support from leading life sciences investors
Novo A/S and SV Life Sciences to fund this exciting new business. We have an
ambitious target to become a leading company focused on the development of
novel treatments for DME and believe we have the team, the expertise, the
assets and the approach to achieve this goal.”

About KalVista Pharmaceuticals

KalVista is a new ophthalmology company with a focus on diabetic macular
edema (DME). KalVista is developing novel plasma kallikrein inhibitors,
which represents a new approach to the treatment of DME, a leading cause of
adult visual loss in developed countries. KalVista has an advanced
pre-clinical product pipeline and is targeting both intravitreal injection
and oral administration. Although VEGF inhibitors clearly can benefit DME, a
significant number of patients do not respond fully to these agents and have
limited treatment options. Plasma kallikrein inhibitors target a distinct
molecular pathway and as such have the potential to offer those patients an
effective treatment option.

KalVista’s founders include world-leading experts in diabetic
retinopathy, Dr Lloyd Paul Aiello, Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard
Medical School and Director of the Joslin’s Beetham Eye Institute, and Dr
Edward Feener, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and
Joslin Diabetes Center. In addition to this therapeutic expertise, KalVista
has a management team with proven experience in bringing small molecules
through the clinic to commercialisation and as a result has attracted
significant financial backing from leading life science investors, SV Life
Sciences and Novo Ventures.

http://www.kalvista.com

        Contact details
        KalVista Pharmaceuticals
        Andrew Crockett, CEO
        +44(0)23-8076-3480 /+44(0)7872-559676
        info@kalvista.com
        Citigate Dewe Rogerson
        Chris Gardner / Mark Swallow / Nina Enegren
        +44(0)207-638-9571
        kalvista@citigatedr.co.uk

SOURCE KalVista Pharmaceuticals


Source: PR Newswire