Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in elderly individuals in westernized societies. It occurs when the central part of the retina, the macula, deteriorates. AMD impacts patients’ ability to read, recognize faces, and see objects in fine detail. Patients with advanced forms of AMD may become blind.
Is the age at which people become at risk for AMD
The causes of AMD are poorly understood. It is most prevalent in patients older than 55 years; smoking is another risk factor. There are 2 types of AMD, dry and wet. Wet, or neovascular, AMD is the more severe form. It can cause sudden loss of vision or blindness. Wet AMD occurs due to the growth of fragile blood vessels (referred to as choroidal neovascularization, or CNV) beneath the retina, which can bleed and leak fluid into the macula, causing damage, scarring, and may progress to blindness without treatment. There is no cure for wet AMD; current pharmacological treatments work by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which normally supports new blood vessel growth.
Existing anti-VEGF therapies for the treatment of wet AMD require repeated intraocular injections every 4-12 weeks, reducing the rates of visual impairment or blindness. Several studies, however, have shown that if anti-VEGF injections are not administered regularly (monthly or bimonthly), the treatment benefit may be lost. Repeated intravitreal injections in elderly patients with wet AMD can be a significant burden for patients, their families, and ophthalmologists. Hence, there is a need for longer-lasting anti-VEGF therapies that require less-frequent administration, while maintaining or improving visual outcomes. Additionally, despite optimal VEGF therapy, the visual gains seen at 1 and 2 years are lost over time due to progression to atrophy and/or subretinal fibrosis.
The Eyevensys pipeline has a project in development for the treatment of wet AMD and other macular edemas responsive to VEGF inhibition.
EYS809 encodes a potent anti-VEGF, aflibercept, as well as a new anti-angiogenic, anti-fibrotic native protein, decorin, that targets vascular leakage, CNV and fibrosis.
EYS809 is intended to reduce the need for repeated anti-VEGF injections, while also seeks to improve long-term outcomes in wet AMD in cases that, currently, often result in vision loss despite anti-VEGF therapy. Eyevensys hopes that its novel non-viral gene therapy, sustained ocular drug delivery approaches for wet AMD and other VEGF-driven retinal diseases may provide longer-acting alternatives to existing therapies, with the added advantage of being not only more convenient but also more effective.