Fort Worth startup gets positive results from clinical trials for eye drug

Bill Burns of Encore Vision, left, and Fort Worth investor Les Kreis, who is a board member of the company.
Bill Burns of Encore Vision, left, and Fort Worth investor Les Kreis, who is a board member of the company. Star-Telegram

Encore Vision, a Fort Worth startup that has developed an eye-drop treatment for presbyopia, the hardening of a lens that causes the need for reading glasses, has received positive results from early-phase clinical trials.

The company said Monday that the study of its EV06 solution, aimed at softening the lens in the eye that tends to stiffen, met both primary safety and efficacy outcomes, with a significant improvement in near vision observed in the study group, which had 75 subjects.

More details are to be presented on Thursday at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Symposium in New Orleans.

“We are encouraged by the positive safety and efficacy outcomes observed throughout the study in patients treated with EV06,” said Bill Burns, Encore’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “EV06 demonstrated a safety profile nearly identical to placebo and a significant ability to improve near vision function as early as two weeks. We believe these data warrant future clinical development.”

Burns, a former executive with Alcon Labs, has been working on the product for almost a decade. He launched Encore out of the Tech Fort Worth business incubator and gained some funding from the Cowtown Angels investor network in Fort Worth.

In a telephone interview, Burns said the company hopes to begin the next phase of trials later this year, which will test different concentrations of the compound. A third phase of trials will also be necessary, meaning the drug is still likely about three years from reaching the marketplace.

Bios Partners, a two-year-old Fort Worth venture capital equity firm run by Les Kreis, is one of Encore’s largest shareholders. Kreis, who also is involved with the Cowtown Angels, sits on Encore’s board.

According to Encore, presbyopia is the most prevalent eye condition in the United States, often affecting people by the age of 45. An estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide in 2010 had presbyopia, and this number is expected to soar to nearly 2 billion by 2020.