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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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Optical Retailer to Add 25 Stores, Expand Into 4 New States

It’s entering the Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wyoming markets.

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DALLAS –Dallas-based optical retailer Eyemart Express announced that it plans to have 25 new locations operating by the end up 2019.

The company currently owns and operates 206 stores in 38 states, according to a press release. It’s expanding into four additional states: Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

“The drive behind our aggressive growth strategy is to make prescription eyewear accessible and convenient for more communities,” said Michael Bender, Eyemart Express CEO. “Seeing clearly should not be a burden or an excessive expense for any family. We work hard to make all our locations an affordable one-stop shop for all eyewear needs.”

Eyemart Express carries more than 2,000 frames for prescription glasses and sunglasses, ranging from exclusive private label brands to well-known brands such as Converse, Longchamp, Calvin Klein, Ray-Ban and Nike. Stores also feature onsite labs so 90 percent of glasses can be ordered and received on the same day.

“Eyemart Express’ growth helps entire communities as well. Job creation is an important factor in determining new store locations — we examine where Eyemart Express can make the biggest contribution to local economies with career opportunities,” said Bender.

More than 300 jobs will be created for hourly wage earners as a result of the optical retailer’s expansion.

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Warby Parker Rolls Out 5 Extended Sizes

They range from ‘extra narrow’ to ‘extra wide.’

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Eyewear  retailer Warby Parker is launching an “extended sizes” collection to help more consumers benefit from its products.

It features “five proportional sizes, ranging from ‘extra narrow’ to ‘extra wide’ and even including low bridge options,” the Observer reports.

Twenty-seven styles are available in seven best-selling frames.

To leverage augmented reality, the company utilized Apple’s ARKit and TrueDepth camera to create software that evaluates proper fit, according to the Observer.

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Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa was quoted saying, “We started getting feedback from our customers saying, ‘I love these styles, but you don’t have anything that fits me’ or ‘you only offer one frame that fits me.’”

Chain Store Age reports that Warby Parker spent two years developing the new sizes.

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Vision Health Firm Buys Italian Company Focused on Retinal Screening and Telehealth

Next Sight develops robotic and IT technologies to provide ophthalmic diagnostic solutions.

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Luneau Technology has acquired Next Sight, an Italian company specialized in retinal screening and telehealth.

This acquisition “brings to Luneau increased capabilities – covering both Back and Front of the eye – to propose a comprehensive eye exam, which is a key customer need” and it “supports and brings a set of experience and technology which will help to drive forward a focus on a range of telehealth solutions for Luneau Technology group,” according to a press release.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Paola Griggio, CEO of Next Sight, will continue to manage initiatives around retinal topics and will also take up a key leadership role as she is appointed vice president for telehealth at Luneau Technology.

Marc Abitbol, president and CEO Luneau Technology, said, “It is a great opportunity for Luneau Technology to expand our offer.

“We are very excited to enter the telehealth space and welcome Paola among our management team to lead this new capability for the group.”

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Luneau Technology produces devices aimed at ophthalmic, optometrists and optical professionals.

Next Sight develops robotic and IT technologies to provide ophthalmic diagnostic solutions. Next Sight produces Nexy, a device which allows retina screening through a platform to securely send patient data to remote locations.

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