One-liner: TelomEYE is an early-stage pre-clinical startup developing an eye drop formulation to maintain/lengthen telomeres with a view to delaying presbyopia, dry eye syndrome and other age related conditions of the eye.
Longevity Dealflow WG team
Shepherd: Rhys Anderson
Other squad members: Paolo Binetti
TelomEYE have developed an eye-drop formulation to extend the length of telomeres with a view to targeting several age-related ophthalmic conditions. Pre-clinical studies in rabbits showed the formulation was capable of delaying telomere attrition and maintaining corneal endothelial cell number over a 6 month period. TelomEYE have raised 800k USD, filed several patents and are now ready to take this formulation to Phase I and II human clinical trials for presbyopia and dry eyes syndrome. Concomitantly, they will be performing preclinical studies to test their formulation on cataracts and macular degeneration with a view to taking these to clinical trials in the near future.
Human eyes succumb to numerous age-associated conditions which severely impact our vision. One such condition is presbyopia, whereby a gradual decline in refractive function prevents us from focusing light correctly resulting in an ability to focus on nearby objects. This begins to affect everyone from around 40 years of age onwards and currently affects 2 billion people. Dry eye syndrome also presents with age and currently market size 5.4 billion USD. Other age-related conditions include cataracts with 354M patients and macular degeneration 195M patients.
Telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes, undergo age-related attrition, and once a threshold of critically short telomeres is reached, cells can undergo apoptosis or senescence. With age, human corneal endothelial cell number declines, leading to a reduction in endothelial cell density (ECD), resulting in a thinner cornea which is associated with a decline in eyesight. Patients with dysfunctional telomeres, such as dyskeratosis congenita, have poor eyesight, thus adding mechanistic target validation.
TelomEYE have developed a daily use eye-drop formulation aiming to prevent the cellular aging of eye tissues and delay the onset of presbyopia and dry eyes syndrome by preventing age-related telomere attrition. The lead compound is an off-patent telomerase activator that is currently used in supplements.
A 6 month pre-clinical study testing the eye-drop formulation on 40 mid-aged New Zealand rabbits showed it could reduce telomere attrition and prevent corneal endothelial cell loss in rabbit eyes.
TelomEYE are now looking to take this formulation to Phase I and II human safety and efficacy studies, with Phase II studies to be performed for 12-18 months on individuals between 45-65 years old, who will use the eye drop during this period twice daily. Near vision as well as the number of corneal cells will be measured to give certain insight if they can prevent and/or cure presbyopia and dry eyes. Telomeres will be measured (cells will be collected via a special ocular strip from the cornea). So we will have solid numeric data about the efficiency of our eye drop. If successful, the plan is to negotiate with international pharma companies actively investing in ophthalmology for acquisition and exit.
In addition to the human clinical trials, TelomEYE will also perform further preclinical studies in rabbits to test if the eye-drop is effective in treating cataract and macular degeneration (intravitreal injection). If promising, the team will look to raise further money to run additional clinical trials for these indications.
- In vitro tests (3 months)
- Animal models (6 months - running more detailed tests than previously performed)
- Phase I human safety test (3 months)
- Phase II human efficacy test (12-18 months)
- Additional genetic tests and reports (6 months)
Patent Application for the Treatment Idea in Turkey: Granted in Turkey without investigation in 2020. Applied for the examination and still under process.
Patent Application for The Formulation in Turkey: Under examination.
Patent Application for the Formulation in the USA: Awaiting to hear from US patent office for examination.
Patent Application for the Formulation in Canada: applied for examination
Trademark Application of TelomEYE: Granted for USA, Canada, Japan, Turkey and EU zone (approx 40 countries) by WIPO.
CEO - Kubi Turkmen (Businessman & Entrepreneur)
Experience in pharmaceutical and anti-aging businesses since 1995. Runs companies operating in Turkey and Canada. Running the business development part of the TelomEye project. Invested and supported early steps of the project.
CMO - Iskender Alkin Solmaz MD (ophthalmologist & Oculoplastic Surgeon)
Graduated from Medical School in 2003 and ophthalmology in 2009. Currently working as an oculoplastic surgeon in Istanbul. Inventor of the TelomEye technology and treatment approach for this unique formulation. Designed and conducted the studies to prove the treatment concept.
CSO - Isilay Kavadarli MD (Ophthalmologist, Cataract and Refractive Surgeon)
Graduated from Medical School in 2005 and ophthalmology in 2011. Currently working as an anterior segment surgeon in Istanbul. Responsible for scientific research in TelomEye Project. Designed and ran the preclinical and clinical studies.
Canan Sevimli Gur, Assc. Prof (Biotechnologist-Biochemical Engineer)
More than 20 years experience in Biomedical Technologies. Head of Izmir Katip Celebi University, Pharmaceutical Basic Science Department. Optimized the drug formulation and run the safety-efficacy dose determination.
Budget and VitaDAO Funding Terms
$100k via a Sponsored Development Agreement in exchange for 1% of the Net Company Receipts (valued at $10M USD based on a previous $800k equity raise), encompassing all indications listed in the pipeline, however, further fundraises will be required to run clinical trials for AMD and cataracts (if preclinical studies are promising).
Clinical studies will be performed in Turkey as the scientific team is based there and running clinical tests according to international pharmaceutical standards is cheaper than in the USA and Canada.
- Eye drop clinical studies : 675.500 USD
- Patents: 80.000 USD
- Company Expenses: 180.000 USD
- Spare budget: 64.500 USD
## VitaDAO’s available funds
For context, (as of Feb 1st, 2023) VitaDAO funded 15+ projects with $3.5m+, and has ~$4.3m in liquid funds remaining (before further fundraising), which will be used for:
Funding new projects
Operations, including sourcing, incubation, evaluation, & community growth
Follow-on funding, including for projects VitaDAO will spin out
- Their in-vivo results are a proof of concept of telomere lengthening
- The active compound has been granted a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status as medical food
- No such eye drop to prevent / delay and treat presbyopia and other conditions of eye.
- Affordable price in any country.
- The company has identified multiple clinical opportunities, including AMD, which is an unmet need
- A company developing a similar products, Encore Vision, was acquired for $465m in 2016
- Telomere shortening is recognized to be a cancer-protecting mechanism, and telomerase overexpression is a cancer hallmark, therefore long-term safety is unknown.
- The company does not have a functional proof-of-concept for presbyopia as there is no widely accepted animal model for in-vivo derisking
- Presbyopia is not an unmet need: the proposed solution should be significantly better than the current standard of care, namely eyeglasses.
- The lead compound is off-patent, so IP protection is likely to be weak
- Revisions Requested (Detail in Comments)