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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

CLINICAL TRIALS

IACTA Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Irvine nabbed a licensing agreement with Zhaoke Ophthalmology Pharmaceutical to co-develop and commercialize two drug candidates in China and other Southeast Asian countries.

“This agreement creates the potential to bring next-generation therapeutics to millions of people in China and beyond. With a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and backing from major, well-known VCs and investors, Zaoke is the perfect partner for this global initiative,” said Damon Burrows, chief executive of IACTA.

Burrows, who was associate general counsel at Allergan, founded IACTA in 2016.

Zaoke is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Lee’s Pharmaceutical Holdings.

Under the agreement, IACTA will receive up-front license fees and reimbursement for some development costs. It is eligible for additional milestone payments and tiered royalties upon commercialization.

IACTA and Zhaoke will trial two drug candidates in Phase 2 studies: IC-265 for dry eye and IC-270 for allergic conjunctivitis—an inflammatory condition of the eye due to exposure to pollen or mold.

IC-270 is a combination drug (made up of an antihistamine and IC-265) that aims to reduce redness and inflammation, as well as itching, the drugmaker said.

The companies said they will share existing and future data and drug materials in pursuit of expedited regulatory clearance in China, in addition to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Newport Beach-based jCyte Inc. said Phase 2b clinical trials on its stem cell therapy showed positive results in treating retinitis pigmentosa, a blinding eye disease.

The Phase 2b results suggest the company’s jCell therapy can “slow visual deterioration” and improve “function in existing photoreceptors,” medical officials said.

The 84-person study was one of the largest studies ever conducted on retinitis pigmentosa, and with the promising results, will lead the company into a pivotal clinical trial in 2021, according to Chief Executive Paul Bresge.

There is currently no FDA-approved treatment for patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, which includes a large number of patients that experience symptoms beginning in adolescence.

Bresge said, “We believe jCell has the potential to be the first approved therapy to address this critical unmet medical need.”

Privately held jCyte spun out of the University of California-Irvine in 2012 and inked a co-development and commercialization agreement with Santen Pharmaceutical Co. in May.

LAUNCH

Global Telecom Engineering Corp. recently unveiled its updated Titan line of modems for consumers and small businesses.

The Irvine-based firm also introduced a 5G indoor modem—one of the first on the market, according to the company. This modem offers speed and performance comparable to wired broadband services, or traditional plug-in services, the company said.

The 5G modem—called the Titan 5000—works with 4G and 5G and can support up to 20 sensors or devices such as cameras under the Internet of Things umbrella.

“The Internet of Things offers so many possibilities for redefining the world we live in for the better, but it all depends on the availability of reliable connections between devices,” said Chief Executive Ahmad Malkawi. “Global Telecom zeroes in on designing the best antennas in the industry and I think the Titan 5000 is going to turn heads with its blazing speeds that don’t fade in and out like most devices.”

Global Telecom launched in 2011 and revealed its first product in 2016.

A Series A financing round to support product innovation and development is in the works, with a commitment from a publicly traded company in California, the company said.

Lake Forest-based iPourIt Inc., a developer of a self-pour beverage dispenser, launched a new touchless tap key in response to COVID-19.

Its touchless tap key is a reusable, dishwasher-safe device that uses radio-frequency identification technology and acts as a smart tag.

Consumers simply order their beer or beverage, and scan the touchless tap key on a screen over the tap of their choice.

The device also comes with a hook feature, so that consumers don’t have to pull down on the tap with their hand.

“Our technology team has been busy developing a comprehensive touchless self-serve solution to help ensure our partners and their patrons could continue to enjoy their beer wall experience,” said Vice President Darren Nicholson. “We recognize our operators’ need to provide safe and health-conscious options when using the self-serve beer wall.”

Since inception in 2012, iPourIt has installed more than 5,800 taps across 220 locations.

iPourIt operator Oak & Stone was the first to roll out the touchless tap key system, at all five of its Florida locations.

PARTNERSHIPS

Ocutrx Vision Technologies LLC in Irvine recently announced its augmented reality headsets will utilize connectivity from AT&T and 5G products developed by Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

These technologies will enable applications in remote patient monitoring and telemedicine, in addition to uses in operating rooms.

Newer technologies provide the bandwidth (data volume in a certain amount of time) and speed to make a meaningful impact on remote patient care and real-time medical applications, which wasn’t possible until now, according to Michael Freeman, chief executive of Ocutrx.

“Finally it’s on the near-horizon,” said Freeman, who noted Ocutrx will unveil a series of headsets aimed at different patient populations in 2021.

Unique features include monitoring vital signs and tracking eye conditions over time. For example, one headset will focus on assisting patients with amblyopia, or lazy eye, and offer therapy to help correct the wandering eye.

On the surgical side, Ocutrx wants to provide surgeons with patient information and guiding tools in the operating room via its headsets.

To support commercial plans, Ocutrx established a manufacturing and testing facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., which will have the capacity to make about 1,000 headsets a day by the second quarter of 2021.

Ocutrx also recently established sales offices in Laguna Beach, Silicon Valley and London.

Huntington Beach-based smart locker firm Brevvie LLC has partnered with Cooler Kiosk LLC to offer beach goers rental products, such as coolers, chairs and umbrellas. 

The partnership marks the “briefly rent everything” company’s entrance into the hospitality market; it also has lockers in apartment communities in Southern California and Washington.

Brevvie created a custom app for beach product company Cooler Kiosk, providing the company with the ability to manage inventory, pricing and the locker hardware itself. 

Products are available for one-time fees between $4.99 and $20.99 or $9.99 a month with unlimited rental swaps.

Brevvie Chief Executive Kristine Everly said the company was pleasantly surprised when the pandemic hit, and the business received an uptick in interest. 

“Our usership has gone up because our system is contactless, meaning there is no human interaction required,” Everly said.

Meanwhile, “we have also continued with our B2B sales more than we anticipated during this time.”

In the last year, Brevvie has introduced its system to Avalon Studio City in Los Angeles and the Talisman apartments in Redmond, Washington, among others.

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