Magazine article Drug Topics

Keeping an Eye on the AMD Market

Magazine article Drug Topics

Keeping an Eye on the AMD Market

Article excerpt

As the average age of Americans increases, so too will the incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition currently affects over eight million people in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute. Available treatment options are only moderately effective, can be inconvenient, and come with expensive price tags. The somewhat invasive intravitreal administration required for many therapies, along with the high cost per injection, has limited their use. As the need for effective and cost-efficient therapies continues to rise, several companies are aiming to overcome these barriers with new products in development.

Ease of administration

Currently available AMD therapies, such as ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech) or the off-label use of Genentech's bevacizumab (Avastin), require monthly intravitreal injections. Several companies are attempting to overcome the tedious process by developing AMD therapies that can be administered with the ease of eyedrops.

Othera Pharmaceuticals is currently evaluating the use of OT-551 for the treatment of geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry AMD. The molecule acts to down-regulate the disease-induced overexpression of nuclear factor kappa B, an important part of inflammatory disease. In preclinical trials, the treatment demonstrated anti-oxidative, anti-angiogenic, and anti-inflammatory activity. Now in phase II, OT-551 is being tested in the OMEGA (OT-551 Multicenter Evaluation of Geographic Atrophy) trial, with a planned two-year study of 198 patients at 20 retinal centers in die United States. Othera is performing another phase II study of OT-551 in conjunction with the National Eye Institute to determine the drug's impact on disease progression in patients with bilateral geographic atrophy. In an upcoming phase II trial in 2008, Othera plans to evaluate OT-551 for wet AMD as an adjunctive therapy to ranibizumab, in an effort to reduce the frequency of ranibizumab injections required and achieve equal or improved outcomes.

Also being investigated as an ophthalmic solution to treat AMD is ATG3 from CoMentis. This topical and noninvasive treatment inhibits endothelial nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh) receptors and has been shown to decrease angiogenesis and vascular permeability. …

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