San Diego biotech Trefoil Therapeutics recently brought in a $28 million series A round for work on vision diseases.
By 2020, Trefoil plans to file an application seeking the OK to test TTHX1114 in humans. If obtained, the drug candidate would undergo a phase 2a clinical trial for endothelial dystrophy, including Fuchs dystrophy, a cornea-swelling disorder in which vision gradually worsens.
Trefoil believes TTHX1114 could reverse vision loss, potentially sparing surgery for many. It would be administered via injection.
“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 Dr. Richard Abbott with the UCSF Department of Ophthalmology in a news release.
“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.”
In preclinical models TTHX1114 stimulated endothelial tissues in normal and diseased corneas, getting at the cause of endothelial dystrophy, according to the company.
TTHX1114 is also being developed as an eye-drop for ulcerative conditions that lead to cornea scarring and vision loss.
Trefoil’s technology was licensed from Florida State University. Co-founder Michael Blaber developed it.
David Eveleth, the CEO of Trefoil, at one point in his career led the ophthalmology medicines development group at Pfizer. Prior to Trefoil, he consulted for several biotechnology companies and venture capital groups.
The financing included new investors Bios Partners, which led the round, and Access Biotechnology. Also participating were existing investors Hatteras Venture Partners, Aju IB Investment, Correlation Ventures, ExSight Ventures and InFocus Capital Partners.
In connection with the round Stella Robertson, the co-founder of Bios Partners, will join Trefoil’s board.
Trefoil in 2017 secured a $5.2 million round.