(DGIwire) – Neovascular or wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an incurable eye disease that damages the macula, the small area near the center of the retina that contains a high concentration of light receptors, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. In “wet” AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the macula, often leaking fluids and blood, leading to swelling and damage to the macula.
Now those with “wet” AMD and the more common dry form might benefit from new technology. According to the journal Machine Design, a team of researchers has developed a tiny telescope, implantable directly inside the eye that is designed to preserve an AMD patient’s vision by focusing the incoming light on healthier parts of the retina rather than on the macula.
The device is designed to be implanted behind the iris in one eye during an outpatient surgical operation that also involves removing the eye’s natural lens, Machine Design reports. Meanwhile, the other eye continues to be used for peripheral vision.
“There are an array of new technologies being deployed to address the vision problems associated with wet AMD,” says Dr. Geert Cauwenbergh, President and CEO of RXi Pharmaceuticals. “One of the most fascinating of these involves a potential way to prevent rather than partially correct vision loss, and that is to use the naturally occurring phenomenon known as RNA interference.”
This phenomenon—called “RNAi” for short—can target and destroy specific RNAs before they can serve as templates for the generation of 100s to 1000s copies of the coded protein. The theory is, “reduced scar proteins, reduced retinal scarring.” RXi has developed a therapeutic platform of self-delivering RNAi compounds, called sd-rxRNA®. The first of these compounds, RXI-109, is in development to target connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a key regulator of scar formation in the eye and skin.
RXi is conducting an ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with wet AMD and associated retinal scars to evaluate the safety and clinical activity of RXI-109 to prevent the progression of retinal scarring.
“It will be very interesting to follow progress in the field as we learn more about the mechanisms that could help curtail the vision impairment experienced by patients with this eye malady,” Dr. Cauwenbergh adds.