Second Sight Medical is looking to bridge the gap to its forthcoming initial public offering with a $3 million loan from iconic chairman Al Mann.
Sylmar, Calif.-based Second Sight developed the Argus II "bionic eye," the 1st retinal prosthesis approved for sale by the FDA. Argus II is indicated for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, a degeneration of light-sensitive cells in the retina which affects about 100,000 people in the United States and 1.5 million globally.
In August Second Sight filed for a $32 million IPO, with MDB Capital underwriting the NASDAQ offering and Second Sight reserving the ticker symbol EYES.
Second Sight detailed the bridge loan agreement from Mann Group in an SEC filing, with Mann Group allowing it to borrow funds through the end of November at an annual interest rate of 1.5% to meet working capital needs.
Mann is also CEO of Mannkind Corp. (NSDQ: MNKD), which is developing inhalable insulin to treat diabetes; and has underwritten the establishment of biomedical engineering institutes in his name at the University of California, Purdue University and Technion in Israel.
Separately, Second Sight divulged a $4.1 million joint research and development agreement with The Johns Hopkins University, where CEO Dr. Robert Greenberg received his medical and doctorate degrees, with the Mann Fund contributing the funding for the work.
The Argus II system uses a camera mounted on special glasses that sends a signal to an electronic receiver with 60 electrodes implanted inside the eye. The receiver sends signals to the retina that travel through the optic nerve to the brain, where they can be interpreted as a visual picture. Future applications of the device are aimed at age-related macular degeneration, a similar but more common disease than RP.
While the system does not restore detailed eyesight, Second Sight says the system produces imagery sufficient for Argus II patients to find doors, avoid obstacles, spot movement and enjoy other activities of daily life. In August, a 55-year-old Arizona woman became the first person in the western United States to receive the implant.
"She could see spots of light on the 1st day of activation, which is very exciting," Dr. Mark Humayun, co-inventor of the Argus II and a director of the USC Eye Institute, said in prepared remarks. "That put her ahead of our expectations. Most of our patients haven’t seen for decades and they have to relearn how to interpret visual signals, which takes quite a while. It’s like seeing a baby learn to crawl, then to walk, then to run."