Ichor Therapeutics is spinning off a startup venture to work on turning SENS Research Foundation technology for the clearance of age-related metabolic waste into a treatment for macular degeneration. In the spirit of doing rather than just talking about doing, Fight Aging! has invested a modest amount to help fund this research and development project, alongside others you might recognize such as philanthropist Michael Greve. With all of the other fundraising going on at the moment, I should say that this is a very late notice of events that took place months ago; the funding round was being assembled around the same time as Fight Aging! invested in Oisin Biotechnologies at the start of the year. Raising funds for startups is one of those things that always takes longer than you think to finalize, however, even when accounting for the fact that it is going to take longer than you think.
Those familiar with the last decade of SENS rejuvenation research in the LysoSENS program will know that the metabolic byproduct called A2E is implicated as a contributing cause of retinal cell dysfunction and death in macular degeneration. This compound is one of many resilient types of waste making up the lipofuscin mix that builds up in older cells. These compounds are resistant to being broken down, so accumulate in the lysosomes, structures within the cell that act as recycling plants. As lysosomes become bloated they cease to function correctly, and cells fall into a garbage catastrophe, unable to maintain themselves in good condition. Many age-related conditions might be usefully slowed or reversed by ways to effectively clear out the important and most damaging forms of lipofuscin constituents from where they gather in the lysosome. It is good to see this work progressing.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a presently incurable eye condition leading to partial loss of vision and affects as many as 15 million Americans and millions more globally. AMD has a significant impact on an individual's quality of life through decreased independence and increased fall risk as well as the psychological and financial burden that vision loss can cause. Ichor Therapeutics began operating in the space in late 2014 after completing a material and technology transfer agreement with SENS Research Foundation for exclusive rights to a pre-clinical enzyme augmentation therapy platform for AMD and Stargardt's macular degeneration, a juvenile onset form of the disease. Another partnership fueling the scientific innovation at Ichor is with Syracuse University, a major research institution in the North Eastern United States. The partnership supports the long term corporate profitably of Ichor Therapeutics through a licensing agreement for exclusive rights to jointly developed intellectual property in the AMD market.
The recently completed transfer agreement provides additional resources to the well-established AMD research initiative at Ichor Therapeutics. Most recently, this initiative has received additional support in the form of a $600,000 program investment from Kizoo Tech Ventures, Fight Aging!, and several private investors. Ichor Therapeutics CEO Kelsey Moody said, "Our advances towards a treatment for AMD have excited many in the industry. We are fortunate to have such a deep network of scientific advisors, clinicians, collaborators, and investors who share our vision in advancing our therapeutic pipeline as quickly as possible." These resources and partnerships will continue to drive Ichor Therapeutics' AMD program, which has early results suggesting effective methods to treat the early, moderate, and late stages of AMD. Currently available treatments largely focus on the late stage only, leading to many patients going untreated. The implications of an Ichor developed therapy could mean millions of individuals could retain or regain their sight. To this end Ichor Therapeutics is continuing to develop lead candidates and assess safety and efficacy in mouse models of the disease.