Sydnexis scoops $45M to treat short-sightedness in kids

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Sydnexis has tried to work around the problems of compounding by creating a formulation that is stable at a higher pH. (Getty Images)

The race to treat nearsightedness in kids with low-dose atropine eye drops is heating up. Sydnexis is the latest company to make waves in the space, reeling in $45 million to fund phase 3 and selling the European rights to its candidate.

Multiple studies have found highly diluted formulations of atropine, a drug used in the treatment of low heart rate, can slow progressive short-sightedness in children. Atropine is an old, off-patent drug and compounded formulations are available. However, Sydnexis is betting there will be a market for an approved product that addresses some of the shortcomings of compounded formulations. 

Investors are on board with Sydnexis’ strategy. Visionary Ventures, Blue Stem Capital and SC Master Fund have led a $45 million series B financing round with assists from existing investors RA Capital Management, Longitude Capital and Medicxi.

San Diego-based Sydnexis will use the cash to wrap up a phase 3 clinical trial of its low-dose atropine candidate SYD-101. The study is designed to show whether one drop of SYD-101 in each eye at bedtime has a stronger effect on the progression of short-sightedness than placebo.

Sydnexis could also emerge from the trial with evidence to support its pitch to use SYD-101 over other low-dose atropine eye drops. Compounders acidify their formulations to improve the shelf life of atropine and, in doing so, cause side effects such as burning and stinging. Sydnexis has tried to work around those problems by creating a formulation that is stable at a higher pH.

Delivering the efficacy seen in other studies without the side effects would boost Sydnexis’ bid to go after the myopia market. Other companies including Eyenovia and Nevakar are targeting the same opportunity.

Nevakar made headlines early this year when it sold the European rights to its prospect in a deal worth up to $135 million. Sydnexis followed up recently with its own deal with Santen for the rights to SYD-101 in the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions.