New company formed to develop Ascendis Pharma ophthalmology assets


According to the company, Eyconis Inc. is developed with a $150 million commitment from external investors.

Medical vials on a manufacturing line (Image credit: AdobeStock/Enzo)

(Image credit: AdobeStock/Enzo)

Ascendis Pharma A/S announced it is working with Frazier Life Sciences to create Eyconis, Inc., a separate company that will develop, manufacture, and commercialize TransCon ophthalmology assets globally.

According to a news release, the development includes an investor syndicate that includes Frazier, RA Capital Management, venBio, and HealthQuest Capital.1

The company noted it has granted Eyconis exclusive rights to develop and commercialize TransCon ophthalmology products globally and received an equity stake in the newly minted operation. In addition, Ascendis will be eligible to receive development, regulatory, and sales milestone payments of up to $248 million, plus single-digit royalties on global net sales of commercialized products, if any. Eyconis will initially be based in Redwood City, California, and certain employees of Ascendis are expected to join the newly formed company.

Emmett Cunningham, MD, PhD, MPH, a senior partner at HealthQuest Capital, is joining Eyconis as executive chairman, and experienced biopharmaceutical executive Oliver Boris Stauch, joins Eyconis as chief operating officer after serving previously as Head of Ophthalmology at Ascendis Pharma.

Cunningham noted the opportunity for Eyconis is tremendous, given the acknowledged need for improved ophthalmology treatments, particularly in wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic macular edema (DME), retinal vein occlusion (RVO) and geographic atrophy (GA).

“We believe the TransCon technology platform will be the first to achieve long-acting and effective delivery of multiple clinically validated biologics - which together constitute the most commonly used therapies for the major causes of retinal blindness,” he said in the news release. “With the expertise of the Eyconis team and access to TransCon technology, we believe Eyconis is well-positioned to develop innovative, best-in-class therapies for retinal disease.”

According to the news release, in addition to Cunningham, Daniel Estes, PhD, and Anna Chen, PhD, from Frazier, Conrad Wang, M.D., from HealthQuest Capital, and Yvonne Yamanaka, PhD. from venBio have joined the board in connection with the financing. Ascendis has the right to designate one individual to the board.1

Jan Mikkelsen, Ascendis Pharma’s president and CEO, pointed out that through partnership with experts who have significant knowledge and deep experience in ophthalmology, the company has an opportunity to apply its TransCon technology platform to develop new treatment options to address large unmet medical needs beyond the core focus in endocrinology rare disease.

“The formation of Eyconis is a great example of how we are working to leverage the broad potential of TransCon in new therapeutic areas to create value for patients, shareholders and society,” Mikkelsen concluded in the news release.

1. Pharma A. New Company Eyconis Formed to Develop Ascendis Pharma Ophthalmology Assets with $150 Million Commitment from External Investors. GlobeNewswire News Room. Published January 29, 2024. Accessed January 29, 2024.
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