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Laser acne treatment gets more VC support for clinical trial

25 Jul 2017

US company Sebacia raises $36M in debt and equity finance; trial results anticipated next year.

Sebacia, a company based in Duluth, Georgia, that is working to develop a new laser-activated treatment for acne, has attracted $36 million in debt and equity finance to support an ongoing clinical trial of the technology.

The new money comes in the form of a $20 million series D equity round with strong support from both existing and new private investors, plus a $16 million debt facility provided by Hercules Capital.

Wellman photomedicine link
Sebacia’s approach to acne treatment is based around a combination of its proprietary microparticles with laser systems already used in dermatology clinics for applications like hair removal and pigmented lesion treatment.

According to the company, these microparticles are engineered with gold wrapped around a silica core, and designed to selectively “target” the light from a hair removal laser system.

Dermatologists apply a topical solution containing the Sebacia microparticles that are massaged into pores and sebaceous glands, before they are heated by a hand-held laser device. “This heat is designed to affect the sebaceous gland and follicle and is intended to thermally change the glands and pores to reduce the formation of acne lesions,” explains the company on its web site.

“The particle was invented by Rice University researchers led by Naomi Halas, PhD, with tissue applications further developed with Jennifer West, PhD (now at Duke University),” it adds. “Sebacia worked with Dr. R. Rox Anderson, a pioneer in laser dermatology at the Wellman Center of Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital to integrate the use of the particle with laser systems already utilized by most dermatologists.”

Clinical trials
The new funding is intended to support a pivotal US clinical trial that is expected to report results by the middle of next year, with a decision from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) anticipated by the end of 2018.

According to the clinicaltrials.gov web site, Sebacia is currently recruiting for two clinical trials, including one in Europe, while a third study across 19 different US clinics is listed as completed but with no study reports yet posted.

Sebacia’s management team hopes to see the technique – already tested on 2000 patients and with CE Mark clearance in Europe - recommended as an alternative to conventional oral antibiotics or treatment with the effective but controversial Roche drug isotretinoin.

Co-founder and CEO Anthony Lando said in a Sebacia release: “From intellectual property to extensive clinical experience and a defined clinical path to approval, we believe we have all the pieces to bring Sebacia's breakthrough treatment for acne to market in Europe and the US.”

John Dyett from new investor Salem Partners added: “We have been very impressed by the Sebacia team and are excited to join such a distinguished group of institutional life sciences investors.”

The company, which according to US Securities & Exchange Commission documents raised $8 million in June 2015 and $11 million a year earlier, also intends to expand its commercial presence in the European Union.

“Additionally, the company plans to expand its worldwide patent estate, which includes the seminal selective photothermolysis methods developed by Dr. R. Rox Anderson at Massachusetts General Hospital,” it added.

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