Four months on from a successful phase 2b clinical trial, Opthea (ASX:OPT) has raised $50m to fund a phase three clinical trial on wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Wet AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people aged over 55. Type I and Type II diabetics are at risk of DME.

The company’s signature drug, OPT-302, targets AMD. On average the drug improved patient’s eyesight by over 30 per cent (patients receiving it gained 14.2 letters of vision as opposed to 10.8).

The secret to its success is targeting multiple growth factors rather than just one. Hence, it is the only drug that achieved an endpoint to this level of significance, according to Opthea.

Now Opthea has raised $50m to fund a phase 3 clinical trial, adding to its existing cash reserves of $30m.

CEO Megan Baldwin told shareholders this morning the new cash injection meant the company was fully funded until the first half of 2021. Stockhead is seeking further comment.

Opthea will target a total of 1,320 patients over a period of 48 weeks against the same drug it outperformed in the phase 2 trial. This is over three-and-a-half times the size of the phase 2 trial which trialled 366 patients.

According to the investor presentation released this morning, Opthea will start the trial in the fourth quarter of 2020 and readout in the first half of 2023.

The company is also undertaking a phase 2a clinical trial on diabetic macular edema (DME). It anticipates reporting in the first quarter of next year.

While the stock has retreated from its all time highs, it rose 9.5 per cent today and sits over three times higher than before its success.

Read More: 

How Opthea became a $1 billion stock in a month, and analysts reckon there’s still more to come

Opthea’s 100pc jump was great, but only scratched the surface, says CEO Megan Baldwin

In other ASX health news today:

Speaking of eye disease fighters:

Neuroscientific Biopharmaceuticals (ASX:NSB) told shareholders this morning it had finished its pre-clinical study on a drug of its own. It was testing pigs with its solution for Intraocular Pressure Glaucoma and expected results by the end of the month. If successful it will be trialled on human glaucoma patients next year.

It also announced it expected to report data this week from another drug it’s working on to fight Alzheimer’s. The company has undertaken a pre-clinical study on the drug in mice.

PYC Therapeutics (ASX:PYC), which is fighting retinitis pigmentosa (the leading cause of childhood blindness), told shareholders it has overcome one of its problems. Previously PYC could not separate the two deepest cellular layers at the back of the eyes, but new data showed now it could. This means there’s a greater chance it will be safe and have a meaningful effect because it can deliver the drug to the target cell at lower concentrations.

Meanwhile Noxopharm (ASX:NOX), which is targeting prostate cancer reported positive results from its phase 1b study. Sixty-six per cent of men (10 out of 15) who took the NOX66 drug and remained in the study reported stable disease or better and significantly lower pain levels. The company anticipates the final report in March 2020 and will then undertake a phase 2 study.