Q BioMed has announced it has exercised its option to exclusively license GDF15, a diagnostic marker for determining the severity of glaucoma using the expression levels of Growth Differentiation Factor 15 (GDF15) from the Washington University in St. Louis. Determining the severity of glaucoma using this biomarker will aid in treatment decisions for patients diagnosed with, and being treated for, glaucoma, according to a company news release.
Currently, no single examination or diagnostic test is able to accurately predict disease progression. Accurate monitoring for disease progression is critical to preserve visual function in glaucoma patients. Today, physicians only have surrogate measures to evaluate glaucomatous neurodegeneration. GDF15 represents an attractive biomarker for glaucoma with distinct advantages including early detection, over conventional clinical tests and has the potential to be a first-in-class diagnostic test. GDF15 was discovered by Dr. Rajendra Apte, the Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine.
Q BioMed and its technology partner Mannin Research Inc. are currently developing MAN-01, small molecule therapeutic with a novel mechanism of action, to treat primary open-angle glaucoma. By offering both a diagnostic and a therapeutic, Q BioMed are addressing the needs of both patients and physicians, as well as bringing innovation to the global glaucoma market.
“Dr. Apte’s discovery and invention of GDF15 to detect the severity and progression of glaucoma is groundbreaking,” Denis Corin, CEO of Q BioMed, said in the news release. “Completing this license is the first step in Q BioMed’s long-term commitment to provide a full set of clinical tools to support the treatment of glaucoma.”
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, estimated to affect nearly 100 million people by 2020. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a biomarker of damage to cells in the eye that could be used to monitor severity and progression of glaucoma and facilitate treatment decisions and their and the effectiveness. Growth Differentiation Factor 15 is a member of the Transforming Growth Factor (TGF-beta) superfamily and was recently identified as a novel and promising biomarker for glaucoma, and its expression correlated with disease severity and progression. GDF15 has been validated in both mouse and rat models of glaucoma, and confirmed in human patients with glaucoma. Beyond reduction of intraocular pressure, the desired goal of any glaucoma therapeutic is neuroprotection, or to be more specific, protection and survival of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs).
Dr. George N. Nikopoulos, President & CEO Mannin Research, a Q BioMed partner company, says, “The use of GDF15 as a diagnostic tool to measure the severity and progression of glaucoma nicely complements our MAN-01 program for the treatment of glaucoma. Our team is excited by the potential game-changing impact that Dr. Apte’s invention will have on the practice of treating glaucoma. Working with a world-class institution like Washington University in St. Louis to complete this license has been a wonderful experience, and we are pleased to be able to address the needs of glaucoma patients worldwide with this collaboration.”