05 July 2021 | Monday | News
Image Source : Public Domain
Arctic Vision, a China-based clinical-stage ophthalmology company focuses on developing innovative therapies for pan-ocular diseases, announcing today a new research collaboration with Prof. Christopher Leung, Head and Clinical Professor at the Department of Ophthalmology of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) for the discovery and development of novel neuroprotective therapies for glaucoma.
Glaucoma, an optic neuropathy characterized by progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.1 In 2020, there were about 76 million patients estimated with glaucoma globally, with up to 22 million in China alone. 1,2 Currently, the most common therapeutic approaches aim to lower the intraocular pressure (IOP) to slow optic nerve degeneration. However, a significant portion of glaucoma patients suffer from progressive visual impairment despite adequate control of IOP. For that reason, there is an urgent need to prevent glaucoma-related blindness via new mechanisms.
Neuroprotection, in the form of non-IOP-related interventions to prevent or delay glaucomatous neurodegeneration, has been underscored to be an unmet need in the management of glaucoma ever since the 2010 World Glaucoma Association Consensus Meeting.3 However, no neuroprotective therapy has been approved for the treatment of glaucoma to date. This ground-breaking collaboration between Arctic Vision and HKU to discover new therapies with novel mechanisms of action marks a paradigm shift of the global research approaches to treatment of glaucoma.
This project has three main objectives:
- Modulate mitochondrial activity as a neuroprotective strategy for glaucoma;
- Develop a microRNA-based gene therapy for protection of optic nerve in glaucoma patients;
- Reprogram cellular pathways for neuroprotection and neuro-regeneration in RGCs.
Arctic Vision will sponsor this four-year collaboration, which will include the development of in vivo experimental glaucoma models and a Phase 1 clinical trial.
Dr. Eddy (Hoi Ti) Wu, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Board Director of Arctic Vision, commented, "Arctic Vision's objective is to discover, develop and deliver the most novel pan-ocular therapies globally. Over the past couple of years, we have built a strong clinical portfolio of in-licensed assets with proprietary technology platforms while raising over USD 140 million in capital. With this new collaboration with HKU and Professor Leung, we are now investing in the exploration and discovery of novel R&D approaches to serious global needs. Over the next four years, we will work closely with Professor Leung to advance new approaches to neuroprotection for patients with glaucoma who suffer from progressive loss in vision despite adequate control of IOP. We are particularly excited to sponsor cutting-edge research in the novel field of microRNA-based gene therapies, which have the potential to transform the therapeutic landscape globally. Overall, this will enhance our R&D capabilities as well as our portfolio to address the unmet medical needs of patients in China and globally."
Dianna Qian, Partner of Pivotal bioVentures China and Chairman of Arctic Vision, commented, "As a life science specialty fund with most of the funding from Hong Kong, Pivotal bioVentures China has been actively promoting the collaboration between HK based top tier research institutions and our incubated companies. This sponsorship not only has strategic meaning to Arctic Vision, but also a milestone to the life science industry's development.
Prof. Christopher Leung, Head and Clinical Professor at the Department of Ophthalmology of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), added, "We are thrilled to receive a generous support from Arctic Vision to further our research in the treatment of glaucoma. We have been dedicated to engineer diagnostic technologies for the early detection and monitoring of glaucoma, innovate procedures to lower IOP, and develop new therapies to protect and regenerate RGCs in glaucoma and other optic neuropathies. This sponsored collaboration allows us to advance the science of glaucoma treatment further by exploring the potential of new approaches like microRNA-based gene therapy. At the same time, this collaboration will also support the training of vison scientists and biomedical engineers in Hong Kong. We look forward to delivering new breakthroughs in this space to ultimately benefit patients across the world."