- RetroSense Using Optogenetics to Treat Retinitis Pigmentosa and Dry AMD
- Hemera Biosciences Obtains Initial Funding for Gene-based Treatment for AMD
- Probing to Treat Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
- Discovery About Shape of the Eye Could Boost Effectiveness of Artificial Lenses Used in Cataract Surgery
- DARPins, The Next “Game Changer” for Wet AMD?
RetroSense is a biotechnology company using optogenetic approaches to treat retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and dry AMD.
Optogenetics refers to a technique for restoring vision that uses “opsins” to genetically convert retinal cells that were not previously, or natively light sensitive to become light sensitive, and thereby mimic the function of rods and cones.
For example, patients with retinitis pigmentosa experience progressive and irreversible vision loss because the rods and cones of their eyes die. Retrosense’s technique allows other cells in the retina (e.g., ganglion cells) to take the place of the rods and cones.
To read more, please follow this link.
Hemera Biosciences is a privately held biotechnology company developing anti-complement gene based therapies for the treatment of dry and wet age related macular degeneration (AMD).
Hemera recently has obtained initial funding, along with a U.S. patent for its CD59 gene therapy. The funding will allow Hemera to begin manufacturing its drug, as well as testing it on animals, and starting a Phase 1 study in humans.
To review, Hemera’s gene therapy uses an AAV2 vector to express a soluble form of a naturally occurring membrane bound protein called CD59 (sCD59), which blocks MAC (membrane attack complex). Membrane attack complex is the final common pathway of activation of the complement cascade, and is composed of complement factors C5b, C6, C7, C8 and C9 that assemble as a pore on cell membranes. The MAC pore induces ionic fluid shifts leading to cell destruction and ultimate death.
Hemera’s gene therapy works by increasing the production of sCD59 by ocular cells. The sCD59 released from the cells will circulate throughout the eye and penetrate the retina to block MAC deposition and prevent cellular destruction. By blocking MAC, the remainder of the upstream complement cascade is left intact to perform its normal homeostatic roles.
To read more, please take a look at my blog writeup by following this link: http://tinyurl.com/GeneTherapy17
I have meibomian gland dysfunction- at the moment my glands are completely obstructed despite warm compresses, oral tetracyclines, restasis and azasite.
My symptoms started one and a half years ago, and I have had the above treatment for one year.
I am interested in getting meibomian gland probing. However, due to finances and my current location, it won’t be possible for a few months.
Would you say I am at risk of gland atrophy, and should act urgently, or would it be alright to wait some months until getting the probing?
Discovery About Shape of the Eye Could Boost Effectiveness of Artificial Lenses Used in Cataract Surgery
Professor Barbara Pierscionek, the Associate Dean of Research and Enterprise at Kingston’s Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, has devoted two decades to researching the biochemical, optical and mechanical properties of the eye’s lens.
Last week, Professor Pierscionek and her team announced research findings suggesting that the way proteins are distributed in the lens of the eye may cause its gradient to be stepped rather than smooth as previously thought. The findings could provide new insight into how the eye grows and lead to major improvements in synthetic lenses used in cataract surgery.
Presently, artificial replacement lenses do match the quality of the eye’s real lens. Professor Pierscionek’s research could help manufacturers close the gap and give patients better vision.
Click here to read more about this development.
After reading an interview with Dr. Elias Reichel, of Tufts University School of Medicine, concerning Allergan’s involvement with DARPin technology for use in treating wet AMD, and some further web research about the DARPin technology, I realized that an important element of Allergan’s work with DARPin is not only an improved anti-VEGF agent but a deal with Molecular Partners (the owners of the DARPin technology), announced last fall, to investigate and commercialize a dual action anti-VEGF/PDGF drug that will be both longer lasting in the eye (fewer injections needed) than current anti-VEGF drugs, but also potentially improve visual acuity in those suffering from wet AMD (and other vascular conditions), similar to the effect shown by the use of Fovista plus Lucentis that we have previously written about.
To read my full report on these developments, go to http://tinyurl.com/AMD-Update23
A new double-blind, randomized clinical trial is currently underway at the Center for Eye Research Australia (CERA) to determine whether the 2RT nanosecond laser manufactured by Ellex Medical Lasers Ltd can be utilized to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration in patients with early stage AMD.
The laser emits a tiny pulse of energy into the back of the eye to remove the deposits that build up with age and contribute to AMD. Patients report that the treatment was completely painless.
The treatment is not suitable for people who have already developed the advanced form of AMD, either the dry or the wet form.
In a recently commenced clinical trial, Clearside Biomedical, Inc. will be evaluating the effectiveness of treating uveitis by injecting TRIESENCE® (triamcinolone acetonide injectable suspension 40 mg/mL) in a total volume of 100 uL directly into the eye’s suprachoroidal space (SCS) via Clearside’s proprietary microneedle.
Clearside’s patented microinjection system is the only non-surgical application to introduce drugs into targeted eye tissue at the back of the eye via the SCS.
Click here for further details about this clinical trial.
Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (OTCBB: ACTC) announced last week that one of its clinical trial partners, UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute, has received FDA approval of its Investigational New Drug (IND) Application to initiate a Phase I/II study using ACTC’s retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to treat severe myopia (commonly known as nearsightedness).
The primary focus of the study will be to evaluate the safety in patients with severe myopia of the type that causes fissures in the RPE layer of the eye. The evaluation of ACT’s RPE cells in potentially treating severe myopia is an expansion of ACTC’s current trials of using stem cells to treat Stargardt’s disease and macular degeneration.
Click here to read the full release.
Last week, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. announced that the FDA had approved the Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System (“Argus II”) to treat individuals with late stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
We have blogged about the Argus II prosthesis in the past, which as early as nearly four years ago had shown promise in restoring vision to blind individuals. Previously approved in Europe in 2011, the device will now be available later this year in clinical centers across the United States to treat patients with retinitis pigmentosa.
Argus II is intended to provide electrical stimulation of the retina to induce visual perception in blind individuals with retinitis pigmentosa and has the capacity to offer life-changing visual capabilities to those currently unable to see anything except, at best, extremely bright lights. Briefly, the Argus II System works by converting video images captured by a miniature camera housed in the patient’s glasses into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. These pulses are intended to stimulate the retina’s remaining cells resulting in the corresponding perception of patterns of light in the brain. The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns thereby regaining some visual function.
In the latest issue of JAMA Ophthalmology (formerly the Archives of Ophthalmology), an article appeared reporting on the relationship between elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and future risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in US men and women.
The study concluded that there is evidence that elevated levels of hsCRP predict greater future risk of AMD, and suggested this information could be of clinical utility in the identification of persons at high risk of AMD who may benefit from increased adherence to lifestyle recommendations, eye examination schedules, and therapeutic protocols.
Click here to read the abstract.
A patient with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) recently wrote to us asking where he could get treated with Oraya’s new IRay Radiotherapy System, a non-invasive treatment for wet AMD that delivers low energy X-rays to the macula. The X-rays are directed into the eye while the patient sits comfortably in a chair, with the head positioned on a chin rest. No lead apron is required. The entire outpatient procedure takes about 20 minutes and the patient can go home after the appropriate post-treatment evaluations are made.
Studies have shown that, after a year, treatment with the IRay system can reduce the need for anti-VEGF injections such as Lucentis or Eylea by up to 32%.
Oraya’s website indicates that in December 2012, the company reached agreement with UK specialist eye hospital group Optegra, to establish the world’s first clinical center to offer the new radiotherapy at Optegra’s Surrey Eye Hospital in Guildford, England.
Click here to read the release.
The therapy is not yet approved for use in the United States so interested patients would need to travel to England for treatment.
We’ve previously blogged about IRay as it was under development.
There are numerous eye conditions associated with contact lens wear (see helpful summary in this 2010 article).
An article in the March 2013 issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology examined the characteristics of patients with severe limbal stem cell deficiency associated with contact lens wear and possible therapies.
The article concluded that in severe cases of LSCD, conservative measures may not reverse the disease, and limbal stem cell transplantation with systemic immunosuppression should be considered as a surgical option.
Click here to read the abstract.
I caught pink eye from my boyfriend and I went to a doctor who prescribed floxin antibiotic eye drops.
I have been using it for 4 days and the pink eye doesn’t seem to going away .
My boyfriend was prescribed doxcycline oral antibiotics.
I am wondering if that is what I need to take.
According to an article published in November 2012 in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, carnosic acid, present in rosemary extract, may potentially have clinical application in the treatment of diseases affecting the outer retina, including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, in which oxidative stress is thought to contribute to disease progression.
The article noted that the herb rosemary has been reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. The study reported in the article investigated the antioxidant and neuroprotective activity of carnosic acid in retinal cell lines exposed to oxidative stress and in a rat model of light-induced retinal degeneration (LIRD).
Click here to read the abstract.
ThromboGenics Launches JETREA® in United States for Non-Surgical Treatment of Vitreomacular Adhesion
On January 14, 2012, ThromboGenics NV (Euronext Brussels: THR), a Belgian biopharmaceutical company, commenced the sale of JETREA® (ocriplasmin) in the United States for non-surgical treatment of symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (VMA).
VMA is a condition where the vitreous gel (jelly in the center of the eye) starts to move away from the macula (the part of the retina responsible for reading vision) resulting in subsequent loss or distortion of vision due to tugging on the macula. JETREA is an enzyme that breaks down proteins in the eye responsible for VMA.
Prior to the launch of JETREA the standard of care for treating VMA was pars plana vitrectomy (PPV), which involves surgically removing the vitreous from the eye.
Retina specialists in the United States have begun announcing the availability of JETREA as a non-surgical treatment option for VMA.
Click here to read ThromboGenics’ release announcing the U.S. launch.
The therapy is likely to be available in Europe shortly from Alcon (a division of Novartis) upon the recent positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use of JETREA.
In late January, Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (OTCBB: ACTC) announced that it is amending the patient treatment protocol to enroll patients with better vision for the remainder of its Phase I clinical stem cell trials for Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (SMD) and dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD) currently being conducted in the U.S. and Europe. As such, patients with a visual acuity of 20/100 will be eligible for enrollment in the remainder of the trials (whereas previously, only patients with a visual acuity of 20/400 were eligible to participate).
By treating patients at an earlier stage of SMD and dry AMD disease, ACTC believes that treatment can have a more significant positive impact on patients’ photoreceptor rescue and visual function.
Click here to read the full press release.
I take large doses of niacin (i.e. vitamin B3) supplements and regularly experience the niacin flush as a side effect.
Could a niacin flush have an effect on the pigments in the iris causing a discoloration resulting in the eyes’ color to turn darker or lighter?
The latest issue of Ophthalmology from the American Academy of Ophthalmology reported on a study finding that second-eye cataract surgery may result in better visual functioning than single-eye surgery.
Studying nearly 1,800 patients who had not yet undergone surgery for cataract, researchers concluded that unilateral cataract surgery (i.e., surgery in one eye) improves visual functioning, the largest gains are found in patients who undergo second-eye cataract surgery. As such, they recommended second-eye cataract surgery for patients with visual or functional symptoms even after successful first-eye surgery.
Click here to read the full abstract.
Allergan, together with the Consortium of Research and Education, is sponsoring live one (1) hour webinars entitled “Open-Angle Glaucoma: Managing IOP in Clinical Practice.”
The webinars will be presented by prominent glaucoma specialists on the following dates and times:
- February 7, 2013 – 12:30 PM ET (Thomas Mundorf, MD, Mundorf Eye Center, Charlotte, NC).
- February 11, 2013 – 12:30 PM ET (Robert Rothman, MD, Glaucoma Consultants of Long Island, Lake Success, NY).
- February 13, 2013 – 3:30 PM ET (E. Randy Craven, MD, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver CO).
- February 20, 2013 – 1:30 PM ET (Fiaz Zaman, MD, Houston Eye Associates, Houston TX)
Each webinar will consist of a 45 minute presentation followed by a 15 minute Q&A session.
Click here to register.
Last week, Alcon announced the launch of ILEVRO™ Suspension (nepafenac ophthalmic suspension 0.3%) as a once-daily treatment option for pain and inflammation associated with cataract surgery.
According to Alcon’s release, in two double masked, randomized clinical trials, ILEVRO™ Suspension demonstrated superior clinical efficacy compared to its vehicle; i.e., patients treated with ILEVRO™ Suspension were less likely to have ocular pain and measurable signs of inflammation (cells and flare) at the end of treatment than those treated with its vehicle.
Click here to read the full release on Alcon’s website.