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$28M Financing Round Will Support Corneal Disease Research

The company’s drug candidate could ‘eliminate the need for surgical intervention.’

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SAN DIEGO — Trefoil Therapeutics announced that it raised $28 million in financing as it develops a treatment for corneal diseases.

The oversubscribed Series A round included new investors Bios Partners, which led the round, and Access Biotechnology. All existing investors, including Hatteras Venture Partners, Aju IB Investment, Correlation Ventures, ExSight Ventures and InFocus Capital Partners, participated in this financing.

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Stella M. Robertson, PhD, co-founder of Bios Partners, and a former vice president in research and development at Alcon Laboratories, will join Trefoil’s Board of Directors.

“Therapeutic options for endothelial corneal diseases are limited aside from cornea transplant surgery, which is invasive, expensive and may require life-long steroid use for immunosuppression,” said Richard L. Abbott, MD, professor emeritus, cornea and external diseases, UCSF Department of Ophthalmology.

“Fuchs dystrophy and other corneal endothelial diseases are among the leading causes of corneal transplantation. There is a high unmet need for a pharmacologic option that would allow treatment of these diseases earlier and potentially reduce or eliminate the need for surgical intervention.”

The company is developing novel engineered fibroblast growth factor-1 proteins (eFGF-1) as a regenerative pharmacologic therapy to treat serious corneal endothelial diseases and epithelial disorders.

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Trefoil’s lead candidate, TTHX1114 ,is an engineered form of the FGF-1 protein designed to reverse vision loss by stimulating endothelial cell proliferation and migration.

Preclinical data has demonstrated TTHX1114’s ability to accelerate corneal clearing in animal models of corneal endothelial dystrophy and enhance healing in corneal chemical injury and herpetic keratopathy.

In human cornea organ culture models, TTHX1114 stimulates the proliferation and migration of endothelial tissue in both normal and diseased corneas, addressing the key defect in corneal endothelial dystrophies.

“Trefoil is developing TTHX1114 with the goal of providing the first regenerative therapeutic agent for the treatment of corneal dystrophy to reverse the vision loss associated with these conditions without the need for surgery for many patients,” said David Eveleth, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Trefoil. “We are grateful to our new and existing investors, who recognize the opportunity we have to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people with sight-destroying corneal diseases and conditions. We look forward to initiating our first clinical study early next year.”

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Smart Glasses ‘Breakthrough’ Likely Not Far Off, Zuckerberg Says

New products ‘will redefine our relationship with technology.’

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says major developments in augmented reality are probable in the coming decade, CNBC reports.

He offered his thoughts in a Facebook post last week, writing, “The technology platform of the 2010s was the mobile phone. While I expect phones to still be our primary devices through most of this decade, at some point in the 2020s, we will get breakthrough augmented reality glasses that will redefine our relationship with technology.”

CNBC decribes augmented reality as “technology that lets users place digital objects on top of the real world.”

Zuckerberg acknowledged that some augmented-reality products to this point have felt “clunky.” But he said new products “will be the most human and social technology platforms anyone has built yet.”

He said augmented reality could improve many areas of life, including careers: “Imagine if you could live anywhere you chose and access any job anywhere else. If we deliver on what we’re building, this should be much closer to reality by 2030.”

In September, Facebook was reported to be working with Luxottica to develop a pair of smart glasses. The project was reportedly code-named Orion.

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The glasses would be intended to disrupt the smartphone market. Zacks reported at the time that the idea was to “allow users of the smart glasses to take calls, livestream on social media and many other such features that are intended to replace smartphones.”

With the smart glasses project, Facebook was apparently “raising its efforts to withstand the intense competition in the next-generation glasses space from Snap, Google, Microsoft and Apple,” Zacks said at the time.

Read more at the CNBC

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$60M to Support Potential Treatment for Eyelash Mite Outbreaks

It could be the ‘first-ever drug treatment for this condition.’

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IRVINE, CA — Tarsus Pharmaceuticals has announced the completion of $60 million in Series B financing.

The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company will use the funds to start a Phase 2b/3 trial in the U.S. of its lead product, a drug candidate for treatment of Demodex blepharitis.

An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from blepharitis, and approximately 45 percent of them have clinical signs of Demodex mites, the company explains in a press release. Tarsus is developing a topical ophthalmic that “targets an underlying cause of blepharitis and has the potential to be the first-ever drug treatment for this condition,” according to the release.

The funding will also fuel Phase 1 and 2 development of other clinical programs. The company’s product pipeline includes additional indications in eyecare and other areas of high unmet clinical need, according to the release.

“We’re excited to support this innovative company that is developing the first drug for Demodex blepharitis and building a pipeline of products to address other large market opportunities,” said Dr. Chen Yu, managing partner at Vivo Capital.

Michael Ackermann, Tarsus chairman, said, “We founded Tarsus with the mission of bringing to market the first drug for Demodex blepharitis, an important unmet need and one of the largest diseases in anterior segment medicine.”

Dr. Bobby Azamian, Tarsus CEO, added, “We are grateful for support from a leading syndicate of healthcare investors. This financing will allow Tarsus to grow, conduct a first registration study in Demodex blepharitis, and broaden our mission to deliver innovative therapies in eye care and beyond by advancing our clinical pipeline in 2020.”

The financing was led by Vivo Capital and included Frazier Healthcare Partners, Flying L Partners, Visionary Ventures, Aperture Venture Partners and Horowitz Group.

 

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California’s Medi-Cal Puts Eyeglasses Back on List of Covered Services

They were cut several years ago.

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California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, has restored eyeglasses to its list of covered services.

Eyeglasses were cut several years ago as California adjusted to the recession, leaving adults on the program to pay for them out of pocket, Central Coast Public Radio reports.

Capital Public Radio notes that vision exams and other eye health services have continued to be covered.

“We want everyone to see, and we think everyone deserves to see,” Dr. David Ardaya of the California Optometric Association said, acccording to Central Coast Public Radio.

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Contact lenses still will not be covered.

Medi-Cal is also restoring coverage for certain other services, such as podiatry and speech therapy.

Read more at the Central Coast Public Radio

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