Novel Oral Therapies Could Transform the Standard-of-Care for DME & Lead to Preventative Treatment
The current standard-of-care for millions of patients across the world with diabetic macular edema (DME) relies on invasive injections or implants into the eye, both of which are associated with serious risks and side effects. A pill for the treatment of oral DME treatment could not only provide a less intrusive and safer choice but could also pave the way for preventative treatment.
It would also remove the need for specially trained healthcare workers to administer eye injections, making treatment more widely available. In diabetic patients, chronically high blood sugar can weaken the blood vessels in the eye, leading to fluid leakage (edema) in the retina. Over time, the fluid may accumulate in the macula, the central region of the retina, resulting in blurred vision, and eventually central vision loss.
At present there are an estimated 21 million people worldwide living with DME (2010). If current trends continue, researchers estimate that about one in three US adults could be suffering from diabetes by 2050, leading to a sharp increase in the number of people affected by this condition.
Verseon, a technology-based pharmaceutical company, is presently developing multiple novel, small-molecule inhibitors of plasma kallikrein for the treatment of DME. Plasma kallikrein is a central mediator in the kallikrein-kinin system (KKS), a well-known pathway addressing an underlying cause of DME.
The most widely used therapies for DME are repurposed anticancer agents, such as bevacizumab (Avastin), ranibizumab (Lucentis), and aflibercept (Eylea). All of these are injected intravitreally and inhibit the same target, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is a key promoter of undesired blood vessel growth. Corticosteroids administered as intravitreal implants such as dexamethasone (Ozurdex) or fluocinolone acetonide (Iluvien) have also been approved for DME. All of the current therapies are associated with potentially serious side effects such as eye infection, eye inflammation, increased eye pressure, glaucoma, and retinal detachments.
An oral treatment for DME could improve quality of life for millions of patients worldwide. Unlike current DME treatments which focus on the symptoms of already progressed disease, oral kallikrein inhibitors could address both prevention and treatment by attacking an underlying cause. Verseon is currently advancing a number of promising compounds and plans to have its first development candidate in human trials in 2019.
Verseon Corporation is a technology-based pharmaceutical company that pairs a proprietary, computational drug discovery platform with a comprehensive in-house chemistry and biology workflow to develop novel therapeutics that are unlikely to be found using conventional methods. The company is applying its platform to a growing drug pipeline and currently has four active drug programs in the areas of anticoagulation, diabetic macular edema, hereditary angioedema, and oncology. For more information, visit www.verseon.com.
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