Eyetech Raises Eye-Popping Round –

Believing that it may have found a cure for certain types of age-related blindness, Eyetech Pharmaceuticals Inc. recently raised $108.5 million in the third-largest round of venture financing ever secured by a biopharmaceutical company.

The New York-based firm actually had nearly half of its $34 million Series B deal still in the bank when it began fund-raising on a new round expected to bring in between $50 million and $60 million, which would have helped it complete Phase II clinical trials.

Intense investor interest, however, drove Eyetech to expand its fiscal horizons and secure enough capital to take it through pre-marketing and Phase III clinical trials.

JP Morgan Partners led the Series C transaction with a $25 million commitment, and was joined by fellow first-time investors BB Biotech, MPM Capital, Alta Partners and existing backers Merrill Lynch and Schroder Ventures.

It is by far the largest biopharmaceutical funding of 2001, and the third-largest ever behind a $170 million Series B deal for San Francisco-based Advanced Medicine Inc. in 1999, and last October’s $150 million for Seattle-based Zymogenetics Inc., formerly known as Zymos Corp.

Eyetech is not expected to conduct another round of venture funding.