May 16, 2023

Novo Holdings leads $100M Series A Financing to Advance Gene Therapies for Blinding Diseases

Investment in Ray Therapeutics would advance development of next generation optogenetic products with potential to restore vision for patients who are blind.

San Francisco and Boston, May 16, 2023.– Novo Holdings A/S announced it led a $100M Series A financing for San Francisco-based Ray Therapeutics, a company that is developing novel optogenetic gene therapies for patients with blinding diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. Ray Therapeutics’ lead product aims to restore visual function in patients with damaged retinal cells by making other neuronal cell types of the eye light-sensitive without the need for goggles or other light enhancing devices.

“Ray Therapeutics is developing the world’s first bioengineered optogenetic therapies optimized for human vision, with the potential to restore both higher visual function and quality of life to blind patients, which aligns with our purpose to improve people’s health,” said Ray Camahort Ph.D., Partner in the Venture Investments group at Novo Holdings. “The company’s next-generation technology platform, strong preclinical data, and world-class genetic medicines team, position them as leaders in developing potential best-in-class vision restorative therapeutics.”

“This Series A financing marks a significant milestone in our mission to address the urgent unmet medical need of patients with blinding diseases,” said Paul Bresge, CEO & Co-Founder, Ray Therapeutics. “We are hugely excited by this new funding, led by Novo Holdings, with a top-tier investor syndicate which will accelerate our pipeline of potential first-in-class optogenetic gene therapies for patients.”

Deerfield, Norwest Venture Partners, Platanus, Merck (MRL) Ventures Fund and 4BIO Capital also participated in the financing round.

A novel approach for patients
Visual optogenetics uses gene therapy to deliver a light sensitive protein to cells in the retina. Light entering the eye can then stimulate these cells to produce a visual signal that is sent to the brain. Ray Therapeutics is using this technology to build a pipeline of next-generation genotype agnostic therapeutics for vision restoration in multiple retinal diseases where the normal light sensing cells (photoreceptors) are lost, for example retinitis pigmentosa, other inherited retinal dystrophies and late-stage macular degeneration.

The company’s lead candidate, RTx-015, is designed to be delivered using an outpatient intravitreal injection and would not need to be combined with any special light-amplifying devices, supplements, or other drugs. Earlier approaches in optogenetics have demonstrated limited efficacy and require light enhancing devices for maximal efficacy.

RTx-015, expected to begin first-in-human clinical trials in the next year, would be groundbreaking for individuals who are already blind, as most treatments in development have been aimed at slowing the pace of vision loss. If RTx-015 is efficacious it could restore a level of vision to Retinitis Pigmentosa patients sufficient to conduct daily tasks like eating or navigating around their homes independently and in normal lighting conditions, and potentially restore the visual acuity required for things such as recognizing faces or reading, significantly improving their quality of life. Currently, more than half a million people are probably affected by Retinitis Pigmentosa worldwide.

“RTx-015 has shown impressive results in preclinical studies and offers hope to patients who currently have limited to no treatment options with retinitis pigmentosa and other inherited retinal degenerations. These novel therapies could significantly improve the lives of individuals with blinding disorders, by potentially restoring vision with the power of optogenetics,” said Jeffrey Heier, M.D., the Director of the Vitreoretinal Service and Director of Retina Research at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston.

In connection with the financing, Ray Camahort, Ph.D., Partner at Venture Investments at Novo Holdings, Tiba Aynechi, Ph.D. General Partner, Norwest Venture Partners and Hannah Chang, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Director, Platanus, will join the Board of Directors at Ray Therapeutics. Brian Chow Ph.D., Principal at Deerfield and Jason Ruth Ph.D., Partner, MRL Ventures Fund, will join as Board Observers.

About Ray Therapeutics
Ray Therapeutics is developing novel optogenetics gene therapies for patients with blinding diseases. The company is developing its lead candidate RTx-015 in retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative retinal disease with significant unmet medical need. The company’s mission is to use optogenetics to restore vision, independent of genetic mutation for patients with inherited retinal diseases. Ray Therapeutics is based in San Francisco, CA. For additional information, visit

About Novo Holdings A/S
Novo Holdings is a holding and investment company that is responsible for managing the assets and the wealth of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The purpose of Novo Holdings is to improve people’s health and the sustainability of society and the planet by generating attractive long-term returns on the assets of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
Wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Novo Holdings is the controlling shareholder of Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S and manages an investment portfolio with a long-term return perspective. In addition to managing a broad portfolio of equities, bonds, real estate, infrastructure and private equity assets, Novo Holdings is a world-leading life sciences investor. Through its Seeds, Venture, Growth, and Principal Investments teams, Novo Holdings invests in life science companies at all stages of development. As of year-end 2022, Novo Holdings had total assets of EUR 108

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation
The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. It has two objectives: 1) to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of the companies in the Novo Group; and 2) to support scientific, humanitarian and social causes.

The vision of the Foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the lives of people and the sustainability of society. Since 2010, the Foundation has donated more than DKK 30 billion ($5 billion), primarily for research at public institutions and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. Read more at

Further information

Dora González, Public Relations Specialist, +1 617 922 5027,