RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Triangle  startup Opus Genetics is adding two potential treatments targeting retinal disease in a deal that cost it cash up front and an ownership stake.

The company, which named a new CEO earlier this year and raised $19M in investment capital a year ago, struck the acquisition deal with New Jersey-based Iveric Bio, a publicly traded firm.

Opus will pay $500,000 upfront to Iveric. It will be responsible for management of research and development related to the two treatment candidates.

Iveric also received stock in Opus which described the stake as “high single digit.”

Opus Genetics was formed with a $19 million seed financing round led by the venture capital arm of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, the RD Fund.

Startup spotlight: Opus Genetics, with $19M, works to advance cures for blinding retinal diseases

It also received seed funding from the Manning Family Foundation and Bios Partners, and is the first spin-out company that was internally conceived and launched by the RD Fund to further the mission of the foundation, which is to advance the treatments and cures for blinding retinal diseases.

“The addition of these innovative BEST1 and RHO-adRP programs significantly increases the patient population that could benefit from Opus therapies and complements our existing pipeline of gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases,” said Ben Yerxa, CEO of Opus. “Opus is building an engine for addressing multiple IRDs, and deals like this one help us achieve our desire for sustainable growth of our infrastructure, operations, scientific expertise and ultimately our patient impact, with the goal of at least one IND [investigational new drug} per year.”

The candidates seek to address bestrophin-1 (BEST1)-related inherited retinal diseases and rhodopsin-mediated autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RHO-adRP), respectively, Opus said.

“Affecting over 28,000 people across the U.S., EU and UK, BEST1 and RHO-adRP represent a significant portion of all inherited retinal diseases and an urgent unmet need for effective treatment,” said Dr. Bart P Leroy, MD, head of the Department of Ophthalmology, professor of Ophthalmology and member of the Center for Medical Genetics at Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital in Belgium.

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Startup spotlight: Opus Genetics, with $19M, works to advance cures for blinding retinal diseases