DEVELOPMENTS IN GENE THERAPY
Novartis have acquired Gyroscope Therapeutics, who are making investigational gene therapy for geographic atrophy.
Geographic atrophy is a form of advanced dry age-related macular degeneration and globally effects more than 5 million people.
Novartis are paying $800 million upfront and potential additional payments of up to $700 million. Until this deal is closed, the companies will continue to operate independently.
Gyroscope Therapeutics one-time investigational gene therapy, GT005, aims to restore balance to an overactive complement system by increasing production of the CFI protein. This protein regulates the activity of the complement system, the increasing production could reduce inflammation with the hopes of preserving eyesight.
The safety and efficacy of GT005 is currently under evaluation in a phase 1/2 clinical trial and phase 2 clinical trials. It has received fast track designation by the FDA.
“This acquisition is one more step forward in our commitment to delivering innovation in ophthalmology to treat and prevent blindness worldwide.” Marie-France Tschudin, President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
Ref: Novartis Acquires Gyroscope Therapeutics, Maker of Investigational Gene Therapy for Geographic Atrophy - Eyewire+
VISION EXECUTIVES 2021 WRAPPED!
Vision Executives have had quite the first year of business, we have seen a lot of engagement from our network. A couple of our posts did extremely well and here is what you liked best:
5. June’s Eye Care News!
We posted a series of industry news updates in June which focussed on Aurion Biotech, Biogen, EyeYon Medical, Implandata Ophthalmic Products and Lenz Therapeutics. This post got an incredible 3031 impressions!
4. December’s M&A News!
This post did very well, getting 3045 impressions! We commented on the Rayner’s acquisition of Omidria from Omeros Corporation and on Katena joining Corza Medical.
3. Walk For World Sight Day!
In October we endeavoured to complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks, in aid of three charities, for World Sight Day. Not only did we successfully raise a total of £1581, but this post on our walk gained 3402 impressions!
2. We’ve Been Published!
As a company, we are very pleased with the publication of our article on Gene Therapies in the November issued of The Ophthalmologist! The support from you, seen in the 5313 impressions on our article post, is incredibly appreciated.
1. Is this the Future for Contact Lenses?
This post was by far our most successful post of 2021. We got an incredible 9158 impressions. Hopefully there’ll be even more updates on contact lens improvements in the New Year!
Scientists have discovered a potential treatment for late-onset retinal degeneration through gene therapy and metformin – a drug used for diabetes.
Late-onset retinal degeneration is a rare, blinding eye disease. It is a dominantly inherent disorder which can occur if one parent carries and abnormal gene. Symptoms include difficulty seeing in the dark and loss of central vision in people around fifty or sixty.
As the degeneration progresses, cells in the retinal pigment epithelium shrink and die, this leads to a loss of photoreceptors which eventually leads to a loss of sight.
Investigators were led by Kapil Bharti, Kiyoharu (Josh) Miyagishima and Ruchi Sharma, who developed a new laboratory model that used induced pluripotent stem cells developed from skin to make retinal pigment epithelium.
“This new model of a rare eye disease is a terrific example of translational research, where collaboration among clinical and laboratory researchers advances knowledge not by small steps, but by leaps and bounds” Michael F. Chiang, MD, Director of the NEI.
“Importantly, we now have two potential strategies to disrupt the L-ORD disease process. While gene therapy may be years away, metformin is a drug that’s long been used to treat diabetes,” Dr. Bharti.
Whilst late-onset retinal degeneration is rare, it shares similarities with other retinal degenerations including age-related macular degeneration. This new model may prove useful in understanding other age-related changes in the retinal pigment epithelium.
Rayner have announced they have acquired Omidria from Omeros Corporation, a pharmaceutical drug which supports the maintenance of a dilated pupil during surgery. It protects the eye from cystoid macular oedema and reduces post-operative pain without using opioids. “Our strategic focus is on visual outcomes and patient safety through a range of surgical products and eye drops. The inclusion of Omidria into the portfolio makes perfect sense and I am particularly excited to see the Omidria commercial team join Rayner,” said Tim Clover, Rayner’s CEO.
Katena have announced that they are joining Corza Medical, expanding Corza Medical’s portfolio of surgical products, adding to their breadth of product and adding infrastructure to their ophthalmic surgery segment. “The addition of Katena is highly complementary to our existing surgical product portfolio. This acquisition underscores our dedication to serving our customers with differentiated, high-performance technologies paired with world-class service” Greg Lucier, Executive Chairman of Corza. “The acquisition of Katena further enables us to execute on our mission with high-quality products that allow our customers to maintain, improve and restore sight for their patients.” Dan Croteau, CEO of Corza.
AI is being considered for use as a refractive surgery diagnostic tool. Marcony Santhiago, MD, said that “A robust [#machinelearning] process generally includes building new variables, which means feature engineering… thus, a better identification of patients at higher risk becomes possible regardless of the cut-off point associated with each one of the features.” Santhiago previously used AI in ophthalmology in a study to identify the early forms of keratoconus – an eye disease which impacts the structure of the cornea. He said, “AI can be used as a diagnostic aid for specific diseases by recognising topographic patterns, finding interactions between topographic and tomographic indexes, and detecting early signs of disease evolution”, suggesting it will be possible to bring AI into refractive surgery diagnostics.
A couple of months ago we highlighted the advancements in Artificial Intelligence in optometry, including: Heru - The Wearable Diagnostic and Vision Augmentation Leaders, who announced their visual field results from its innovative vision diagnostics and augmentation leader were very similar to those of ZEISS Medical Technology Humphrey Field Analyser (HFA) regarding patients with glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmic diseases.
I also wrote on AI in ophthalmology in 2019, where Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, working with Google’s DeepMind project, were taking OTC scans of the back of the eye in order to detect geographic atrophy, showing it is possible to use AI as a diagnostic tool. It is clear year on year the huge potential for AI in #eyecare and #ophthalmology is being realised.
IAPB'S EYE HEALTH HERO'S
Instead of our usual weekly ophthalmology news update, I feel that the news about Eye Health Hero's from International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) is far more important! Some of the stories about this years' Eye Health Heros are truly inspirational.
The story of Saima Ghufran in particularly amazing because she is a mother of 4 yet has managed to train 300 optometry students and challenged gender norms resulting in 65% of her student's being females!
You can see more about the Eye Health Hero's by following this link.
Congrats to all this years winners! 🎉
James Pickering is our Managing Director and an eye care recruitment expert who has developed an extensive client base and candidate network. He regularly writes articles about industry developments and has received numerous recommendations from industry leaders. You can also connect with James on LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest eye care news.