ProtoKinetix updated its stockholders on the testing of neuronal retinal cells in living tissue at the University of British Columbia (“UBC”) under the guidance of Kevin Gregory-Evans, MD, PhD, FRCS, FRCOphth. As explained by Dr. Gregory-Evans, the research program at UBC will be determining whether AAGP can help improve the survival of stem cells that are currently being used in human trials to treat retinal blindness. We are doing this because of the poor outcome in the current state of play using stem cells in the treatment of blindness. Proof of principal work has been done in animal models but these successes are few and far between. What has been seen most recently is that probably as few as 10% of injected cells are surviving more than a week. Although this is adequate for proof of principle work, it is not good enough for developing a clinical medical treatment. We are looking for ways to improve cell survival in actual living eyes.
The researchers at UBC have reached the conclusion that AAGP should provide the required level of protection to ensure post-engraftment survival. One reason is theoretical and one is experimental. The theoretical basis is that when tissue is damaged, that tissue breaks down and releases toxins into its environment. We believe that AAGP can work to reduce the harmful effects of these toxins. Based on previous tests conducted by the Company, AAGP has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory properties. The experimental basis for our hypothesis is that we have tested the drug in tissue culture in the lab and found that it improves the survival of cells.
The current work that we are doing is taking those results and that theory and looking at it now in living tissue to see if we can reproduce the successes that we achieved before. We have established a new type of model for retinal degeneration in a rabbit and are currently working on injecting neuronal cells plus AAGP to see if we can see any improvement long term in how these cells survive and integrate into the retina and hopefully lead to vision restoration in the animals.
“We hope to achieve results in experiments more closely aligned with human disease. If that is the case the molecule could become a major advance in the field of stem cells and blindness.” Dr. Gregory-Evans, Professor of Ophthalmology in the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, said in the news release.