Ophthalmology-focused biotechnology company, Oculus BioMed, has announced a collaboration agreement with The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) for the development of a therapeutic gene as a novel anti-VEGF therapy to advance 'SwitchGene' – an easy-to-use genetic therapy for diabetic retinopathy (DME).
The company said the project aims to develop a less-invasive anti-VEGF therapy 'SwitchGene' that patients can self-administer through eye drops to treat diabetic eye diseases.
Existing anti-VEGF therapeutic paradigms require ongoing intraocular injections, which are costly and carry the risk of injury and infection.
The project has pioneered a strategy to install an anti-VEGF gene in the back of the eye through adeno-associated virus (AAV) that can be initiated on demand via an easy-to-use eye drop.
The collaboration aims to validate the 'SwitchGene' technology in clinically relevant animal models of diabetic retinopathy and related retinal neovascularization.
CERA managing D=director Professor Keith Martin said, “The partnership with Oculus BioMed would accelerate the pace of research by CERA’s Genetic Engineering team, led by Associate Professor Rick Liu, to develop ‘next generation’ gene therapies that deliver tailored treatments to people living with eye disease”.
“This new collaboration will enable us to further refine our technology in the lab and move closer toward our goal of taking the therapy to clinical trial.’’ said Oculus BioMed CEO Andrew Coloretti.
"We are extremely excited to enter into this collaboration developing a safe and targeted approach for eye gene therapy.
"This is a world leading initiative and compliments our existing diversified ophthalmic portfolio”. Both parties will jointly fund the project with a steering committee of equal representation established to oversee the research, risk management and intellectual property development and protection," added Mr Coloretti.