Acucela announced an R&D agreement and exclusive option to acquire the global rights to EyeMedics' proprietary biomimetic technology, including an initial candidate molecule for ophthalmic use.
The proprietary technology, licensed by EyeMedics from the University of Southern California, modulates endogenous factors released during the inflammatory process at the early pathogenic stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), proliferative diabetic retinopathy (DR), diabetic macular edema (DME) and other retinal neovascular conditions. Approximately 142 million people are affected by AMD (all forms), and about 105 million people are affected by diabetic eye disease worldwide. These two diseases alone are two of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.
In an early in-vivo preclinical study, the lead drug candidate of EyeMedics demonstrated the ability to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induced vascular leakage comparable to anti-VEGF therapy, and without loss of native microvasculature. Vessels appeared to be better preserved than with the anti-VEGF treatment suggesting less occlusion.
In addition to its early intervention in the neovascular disease cascade, Acucela intends to evaluate the potential of these proprietary molecules to be dosed less frequently and exert therapeutic effects over a longer period of time than current anti-VEGF biologic drugs used as standard of care.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to assess the potential of this novel therapeutic approach to provide better outcomes and an improved delivery paradigm, administered either intravitreally or orally, for patients suffering from a variety of retinal neovascular diseases starting with diabetic macular edema,” Ryo Kubota, MD, PhD, and Chairman, President and CEO of Acucela, said in a company news release.
Nicos Petasis, PhD, Cofounder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of EyeMedics, stated, “We think this biomimetic technology has the potential to help many patients and we very much welcome the opportunity to work with Acucela to move forward the development of this technology.”