October, 16 2023 • Press Releases

The Retinal Degeneration Fund Announces an Investment in NVasc

NVasc is developing a therapeutic angiogenesis strategy for the treatment of retinal ischemia associated with the continuum of age-related macular degeneration

Raleigh, NCOctober 16, 2023 – Today, the RD Fund (Retinal Degeneration Fund) – the venture arm of the Foundation Fighting Blindness aimed at rapidly driving research to advance preventions, treatments, and cures for retinal degenerative diseases, announces an investment in NVasc, an early-stage company focused on treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

NVasc was founded by a team of highly regarded scientists: Napoleone Ferrara, MD, the late Nobel Laureate Robert Grubbs, PhD, Dan Schwartz, MD, and Marco Zarbin, MD, PhD. Dr. Ferrara was involved in the discovery of VEGF, recognized as the key regulator of angiogenesis, and in the creation of LUCENTIS® and AVASTIN®. Among other achievements, Dr. Ferrara received a Lasker award for developing the first effective therapy for neovascular AMD.

Dr. Ferrara continues to innovate with NVasc cofounders to develop a leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) receptor agonist for the treatment of dry age-related macular degeneration and the advanced form geographic atrophy. LIF is a pleiotropic member of the IL-6 family of cytokines that stimulates growth and survival of human choroidal endothelial cells. 

“I truly appreciate the support of the RD Fund,” says Dr. Ferrara. “I am excited by the possibility of developing a novel therapy for AMD that prevents loss of choriocapillaris and slows down progression of geographic atrophy.”

The financing supports continued product and nonclinical development of NVasc’s technology for therapeutic angiogenesis as a treatment for retinal ischemia associated with age-related macular degeneration and geographic atrophy. Adrienne Graves, PhD, RD Fund Chair, joined the NVasc board as an independent board director. 

“We’re fortunate to be in a position to help catalyze the discovery and development of novel therapeutic strategies for age-related macular degenerations,” says Rusty Kelley, PhD, managing director at the RD Fund. “NVasc adds to the RD Fund portfolio another group of world-class scientific founders with significant expertise from discovery to the clinic, and with a unique mechanism aimed at improving choroidal and retinal revascularization that gets us closer to the cause of disease. Dr. Graves, chair of Iveric Bio prior to its acquisition by Astellas, brings a wealth of Board governance experience to NVasc.”    

About the RD Fund
The RD Fund (Retinal Degeneration Fund) is the venture arm of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and a leading investor in the retinal disease space. It was established in 2018 to serve the Foundation’s mission to rapidly drive research toward preventions, treatments, and cures for the entire spectrum of blinding retinal diseases including: retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and Usher syndrome. The RD Fund focuses on mission-related investments in companies with projects nearing clinical testing. Visit for more information.

About the Foundation Fighting Blindness
Established in 1971, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is the world’s leading private funding source for retinal degenerative disease research. The Foundation has raised more than $891 million toward its mission of accelerating research for preventing, treating, and curing blindness caused by the entire spectrum of blinding retinal diseases including: retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and Usher syndrome. Visit for more information.

About NVasc, Inc.
NVasc, Inc. is an early-stage ophthalmology company founded in February 2019 and funded by Kairos Ventures in November 2019. The company is focused on treating the leading causes of blindness through choroidal and retinal revascularization. NVasc has acquired the research rights to growth factors (NVB001 and NVB002) that have been shown to encourage the growth of non-leaking new vessels in the retina and choroid in mouse models of ischemic eye diseases. The company is planning to manufacture NVB001 that can be used in toxicokinetic studies and in early clinical trials in humans.

Media Contact:
Chris Adams