Noxxon Pharma, a Berlin-based biotech, raised 37 million euros ($50 million) to help push its first aptamer-based drug candidates for kidney and eye disease into clinical trials.

The main new investors included TVM Capital, Sofinnova Partners, and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners.

Aptamers are short stretches of DNA or RNA — generally known as oligonucleotides — that are designed specifically via an evolution-style process to latch onto a specific protein or other biological target. Because their drug properties could rival those of antibodies — currently used in hit drugs such as Genentech’s Avastin — while being far easier to make, aptamers have drawn a fair amount of excitement over the years. But the first aptamer-based drug, Eyetech Pharmaceutical‘s Macugen for age-related macular degeneration, has been a disappointment in the marketplace — in part because a Genentech antibody-based drug appeared to demonstrate superior results.

Check out Noxxon’s release here (HTML) or here (PDF).