With the exception of QLT Inc. and its Visudyne verteporfin for age-related macular degeneration, the ophthalmic area hasn't been very rewarding for biotech investors. Thus investors in the largest biotech venture financing so far this year, Eyetech Pharmaceutical Inc.'s $108.5 million round last week, obviously are betting that the company will be the second exception to the rule, even if no one is yet ponying up much information to back up their pick.

The company last week declined to discuss the timeline or endpoints for the pivotal Phase II/III trial of its anti-VEGF aptamer to treat age-related macular degeneration, which it licensed from Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD, Foster City, Calif.) in April 2000 for $7 million in upfront fees, $25 million in milestones and an undisclosed royalty stream (see BioCentury, April 10, 2000).