The initial focus of Opticin Therapeutics is the treatment of eye diseases where visual loss results from the growth of pathological blood vessels into the vitreous cavity (i.e. preretinal neovascularization), especially two conditions outlined below.
Retinopathy of Prematurity
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is an eye disorder that can result in permanent blindness and affects premature infants (especially those born before 31 weeks and weighing 1.250 kg or less). ROP is a rare disease; one six-year study in the US found an incidence of 0.12% of all live births – equivalent to around 5,000 cases of ROP per year in the whole US. At this level of incidence an effective therapeutic for ROP would benefit from being designated as an ‘orphan drug’. The advantages of this classification include lower regulatory hurdles, fast-track market approval and substantially higher pricing power than more conventional medicines.
There are currently no approved drug therapies for ROP. The current gold standard treatment is laser photocoagulation of the retina. However this is associated with major complications including intraocular hemorrhage, corneal edema, cataract formation, loss of peripheral vision and myopia.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. In this condition visual loss is caused by diabetic macular edema (DMO) and/or proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). PDR is a condition where new blood vessels grow from the retina into the vitreous humor of the eye and unless successfully treated results in vitreous hemorrhage, scarring, tractional retinal detachment and blindness. It is estimated that around 700k people in the US have PDR and over 17m globally.
Anti-VEGF drugs are now approved for the treatment of DMO, but there are no currently approved drug treatments for PDR and the mainstay of therapy remains a form of laser treatment called pan retinal photocoagulation (PRP). This laser treatment destroys large parts of the retina, has significant side effects including loss of peripheral vision and night blindness, and it does not always work. Therefore, alternative treatments are desperately needed.