Tenpoint Therapeutics launched publicly Wednesday with $70 million in funding to develop vision-restoring medicines for age-related and inherited ocular conditions, becoming the latest new biotechnology startup to take aim at the eye.
Built around research conducted at centers in the U.S., U.K. and France, Tenpoint is backed by a group of venture investors that include F-Prime Capital and Sofinnova Partners.
The company’s mission is ambitious. It plans to regenerate eye cells, either through transplantation of engineered stem cells or through in vivo cellular reprogramming, to restore sight in people with degenerative diseases.
In an email, Tenpoint CEO Eddy Anglade said the company will build on a number of recent scientific advances, such as ability to grow cells like photoreceptors or retinal pigment epithelial cells in the lab. Improved imaging and surgical techniques allow these new cells to be precisely inserted into the eye, he added.
“All of these advancements make now the ideal time for a company with the expertise of Tenpoint to address this urgent unmet need in ocular diseases,” he said.
A former Johnson & Johnson executive, Anglade replaced as company head Tenpoint’s founding CEO Vanessa King, who will continue as an adviser. Tenpoint’s board of directors is chaired by David Guyer, who founded Iveric Bio, where he previously was executive chairman, and Eyetech Pharmaceuticals.
Anglade did not specify which diseases Tenpoint hopes to target, but said in his email that Tenpoint’s platform can “restore cells in a range of locations in the eye.”
The company, which has about 15 employees in the U.S. and Europe, is currently evaluating technologies to select its lead program, he said. Some of its capabilities come from an acquisition of a company spun out of Paris-based SparingVision.
Tenpoint’s launch follows the recent debuts of Ray Therapeutics and Beacon Therapeutics, two biotechs that aim to develop gene therapies for eye diseases. Similar to Tenpoint, Ray is attempting to restore vision rather than just halting or slowing eye degeneration.