Camras Closes $5.7M Series A, Eyes Glaucoma Clinicals
Camras Vision, an NCBiotech portfolio company developing a new medical device for treating glaucoma, has closed on $5.7M in equity funding in a Series A round.
The funding round, led by VCapital, InFocus Capital Partners and Triangle Venture Alliancea, also includes returning seed investors Triangle Angel Partners, IMAF Coastal Plain, and Pilot Mountain Ventures as well as additional new angel investors.
The company said it will use the funds to support four clinical trials globally, including a pilot study in the United States, to study the efficacy of the Camras device to treat refractory glaucoma.
Glaucoma afflicts more than 3 million Americans, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. A leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, it’s traditionally treated by lowering the eye pressure to stop vision loss. So far, there’s no treatment that provides a predictable target pressure control, leaving physicians to use an imprecise combination of multiple therapies to attempt to reach a recommended pressure range.
Camras has developed a patented shunt that, when implanted in the eye, relieves intraocular pressure by draining fluid called aqueous humor. Elevated pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain, causing permanent vision loss if not treated. Camras’ device drains externally, avoiding scarring within the drainage site and potential failure associated with other incisional/shunt surgeries.
NCBiotech funding helps open door to other sources
“We are pleased to have VCapital, InFocus Capital Partners, and TVA participating in our Series A financing, in addition to the ongoing commitment of our current investors,” said Ray Krauss, Camras CEO. “Our first-in-human trial overseas has been underway for the past 18 months and has shown encouraging preliminary results. Product refinements will continue as we move forward with additional clinical trial sites.”
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center provided the company three loans totaling $824,000 to develop and test the shunt. The first award, a $74,226 Small Business Research Loan in May 2014, “was a lifeline,” says Krauss.
“Without that money, the company would not exist,” he says. “We were operating on vapors.”
The two subsequent loans totaling $750,000 “have allowed us to accelerate our efforts,” he says.
The company has leveraged the extensive due diligence that NCBiotech staff performed on the company before awarding the loans.
“Outside investors, when they hear that we received loans, they know there’s been a certain level of due diligence performed, which makes them more comfortable with lending their own money,” Krauss says.
The company has also received about $3 million in federal grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation and also raised $1.3 million in seed-round equity financing.