Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited eye disease which affects the retina, and impacts around 1.5 million people globally. In Vision Executives’ article on gene therapy, which was published in the The Ophthalmologist Magazine, we explored how some companies were aiming to use gene therapy to treat retinitis pigmentosa. Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC) are a recent addition to this selection of companies who are aiming to treat the disease with gene therapy.
AGTC have released their 3-month interim data from their phase 2 Skyline trail of AGTC-501, an AAV viral vector-based gene therapy which targets the RPGR gene in patients with X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP). The results showed improvements in visual sensitivity in multiple patients after 3 months, the trials primary efficacy endpoint.
As with their phase 1/2 results, AGTC-501 was well tolerated with no clinically relevant safety concerns. ATGC believe this favourable safety profile is due to a strong focus on product design, extensive preclinical testing and enhanced inclusion and exclusion criteria.
“We are incredibly excited by the compelling interim results seen in the Skyline trial, including strong safety data and robust improvements in visual sensitivity with a clear difference between the two dose groups. These results add to the growing body of evidence supporting the best-in-class potential of AGTC-501 for the treatment of XLRP.” Sue Washer, President and CEO of AGTC.
AGTC-501 is an exciting development for the treatment of XLRP, a disease which currently has no FDA approved treatments.
SightGlass Vision, Inc. Presents their Two Year Data for Myopia Control Efficacy for Vision Spectacle Lenses
Glasses which use SightGlass Vision Diffusion Optics Technology have demonstrated success in slowing the progression of myopia in children. This is based on a 24-month interim data from the clinical trial ARVO 2022.
There was an analysis undertaken of full-time glasses wearers, between the ages of 6 and 10, whose parents reported a lack of near vision improvement with the use of study spectacles. With the Diffusion Optics Technology lenses, there were statistically significant improvements between the groups.
The study was conducted by enrolling, randomising, and dispensing the lenses to 256 eligible children over 14 clinical trials, which were held in the United States and Canada.
Lenses which use the patent protected SightGlass Vision Diffusion Optics Technology include ‘thousands of micro-dots that softly scatter light to reduce contrast on the retina.’ This method aims to reduce the progression of myopia in children.
“We’re enthusiastic about sharing more detail from the two-year interim results, which will further support our development efforts and ongoing commercialization activities in select markets.” Andrew Sedgwick, CEO of SightGlass Vision.
Myopia is the leading cause of visual impairment in children. SightGlass Vision's data is a promising and exciting development in treating it.
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Ophthalmic medical care in Ukraine has been heavily disrupted by the Russian invasion. In Ukraine, private clinics provide half of the countries eyecare, and these have been closed due to the war. Practitioners have adapted by providing online consultations where they can, as this is currently the safest option. Elsewhere, ophthalmologists in the centre of the war have moved to field hospitals.
✅Ophthalmic Aid to Eastern Europe:
In 1990, Ophthalmic Aid to Eastern Europe (OAEE) was set up with the aim to provide ophthalmic instruments, equipment, textbooks, and journals for post-graduate centres in Eastern European countries. OAEE have also organised teaching visits to numerous Eastern European countries, and funded workshops in Moldova, Romania, and Russia.
In 1993 the first humanitarian support to Ukraine, ‘Focus on Lviv’ began. ‘It was a timely and very valuable support for ophthalmologists at Lviv Medical University, especially after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the deterioration of funding in medicine’, giving valuable help to Ukrainian ophthalmologists. Further shipments of ophthalmic aid were sent to Centre of Eye Microsurgery in Kyiv and Lviv Medical University in 1996 and 1997.
Post-graduate training programmes in Ukraine were organised in 2002, giving a variety of lectures on clinical ophthalmology. In 2014 and 2017, Ukraine received grants from OAEE for short-term training placements at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, giving young Ukrainian ophthalmologists the opportunity to gain valuable experience.
✅The United Kingdom and Ireland Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons
The charity and educational ophthalmic society, the United Kingdom and Ireland Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (UKISCRS) have donated £5,000 to support ophthalmology in Ukraine during these difficult times.
This donation came about from a unanimous vote and the money will go to the The European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS) Surgeons restricted fund, which intends to support the ophthalmic industry and its practitioners in Ukraine. In a statement about the donation, the UKISCRS praised the work being carried out in the country “Our thoughts are very much with [Ukraine], and we extend our respect and admiration for [their] continuing to carry out their vital work within a population that now needs them more than ever.”
To understand more about how the war in Ukraine is impacting the ophthalmology industry, and how, more than ever, provisions for eyecare and ophthalmology is needed, please take the time to watch this video by COOKIE Magazine: (Matt Y. great work to put this together)
If you are aware of other aid the ophthalmology and eye care industry are providing to the Ukraine during this war, please mention it in the comments so they can be recognised for their selfless work.
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ZEISS Medical Technology partnered with FCI Ophthalmic Community have announced their acquisition of two surgical instruments manufacturers: Kogent Surgical, LLC and Katalyst Surgical, LLC. "This is a strategically important acquisition for ZEISS Medical Technology. We expect this acquisition to scale the businesses and contribute to our surgical solution offering and add recurring revenue." Dr Markus Weber, CEO and President of Carl Zeiss Meditec AG.
Kogent Surgical, LLC and Katalyst Surgical, LLC were founded by Gregg Scheller, who stated "We already have a successful, long-term partnership with ZEISS and FCI (France Chirurgie Instrumentation S.A.S.) and we look forward to jointly expanding our solutions into other ZEISS applications and customer specialties."
Vision Executives look forward to seeing how this partnership and acquisition progresses. Follow Vision Executives to stay up to date with the latesteyecare news and vacancies.
We are pleased to welcome our new Candidate Relationship Manager Natasha Ellison to the Vision Executives team 👏👀 Having previously worked as an ophthalmic technician and in the recruitment industry Natasha is responsible for creating a seamless candidate experience for our extensive network of talented eyecare professionals.
If you are looking for a new position in eyecare or ophthalmology please reach out to Natasha for a confidential call to discuss how we can support your career!
Novartis have announced their European Commision Approval of Beovu, their treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). DME is a leading cause of vision loss in working-age people. In 2020, Beovu was granted European Commission Approval for the treatment of wet-age macular degeneration, making this newest announcement its second indication.
The European Commission granted their approval following year 1 data from the phase 3 KESTREL and KITE studies which met their primary endpoint of noninferiority in change in best corrected visual acuity from baseline vs aflibercept.
“This approval marks a significant milestone for DME patients, many of whom are of working age and struggle with adherence due to the need to manage multiple comorbidities related to diabetes” J. Jill Hopkins, MD, SVP and Global Development Unit Head of Ophthalmology for Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
Previously, Novartis came into difficulties with Beovu. They halted three trials over safety concerns due to high rates of inflammatory reactions in the #eyes. With the advent of the news around DME, it would seem these safety issues have been resolved, with Novartis stating that the majority of the adverse events from Beovu for DME’s KESTREL and KITE studies ‘were manageable and resolved with routine clinical care’.
Novartis’ application for Beovu for DME is also under review by the FDA and Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency.
Follow Vision Executives to stay up to date with the latest eyecare news and vacancies.
STAAR Surgical have announced the FDA approval of EVO and EVO+ Visian Implantable Collamer Lenses, which aim to correct myopia and myopia with astigmatism. It is estimated that more than 2.5 billion people worldwide are affected by myopia, making this a welcome development.
"Following FDA approval, prospective patients in the U.S. and their doctors may now consider EVO for achieving Visual Freedom from the limitations, ongoing maintenance and inconvenience associated with glasses and contact lenses,” Caren Mason, CEO and President of Staar Surgical.
EVO lenses have already been implanted outside of the US, with over 99.4% of patients saying that they would do the procedure again. In 2021, sales of the lens went up 51%, showing the confidence consumers have in this treatment.
“[This] announcement is especially important because the prevalence of myopia is increasing quickly, and COVID precautions have presented additional challenges to people wearing glasses and/or contact lenses" Scott Barnes, Chief Medical Officer of Staar Surgical. This is an exciting and promising development for patients suffering from myopia.
Johnson & Johnson Vision have received FDA Approval for Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen – the first drug-eluting contact lens.
Each lens will contain a 19mcg of the antihistamine ketotifen. They will be daily disposable contact lenses which aim to prevent ocular itch due to allergic conjunctivitis, whilst also providing vision correctness. These will be available for patients who do not have red eyes, who are suitable for contact lenses and do not have more than 1.00D of astigmatism.
“Ocular allergic itch in contact lens wearers may soon be an issue of the past thanks to the decision of the FDA in approving Acuvue Theravision with Ketotifen,” Brian Pall, Director of Clinical Science, Johnson & Johnson.
This announcement comes following a positive phase 3 clinical study which ‘showed a clinically and statistically meaningful reduction in itchy allergy eyes as quickly as 3 minutes after lens insertion and lasting up to 12 hours’. The lenses may be worn for longer for vision correction.
This new drug eluting technology could have many other applications and we are looking forward to seeing if J&J continue their research in this field and perhaps combine the contact lens with dry eye and other ocular disease medication.
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.