Exploring new horizons in eye care with gene therapy

If you’ve been keeping an eye on recent developments in eye care, you’ll know that several new therapeutic agents that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in recent months, including ranibizumab delivered via Port Delivery System (PDS) and faricimab, the latter of which has become the first intravitreal bispecific biologic treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema.

But recent advances in ophthalmology don’t stop there. As Veeral Sheth, MD, director of clinical trials at Retina University, would explain, there’s so much going on in the world of eye care that it’s “hard to keep up with all the work.”

“It’s exciting because it means we’re getting new therapies for patients, and we can give them extra hope, reduce the burden of treatment, and give them better outcomes,” Sheth said. “Patients ask all the time, ‘Doc, am I going to do these injections forever and ever?’, and the answer is only if nothing changes in terms of what becomes available. So the fact is, we have a lot on the horizon.

Sheth spoke of the promise of “breakthrough technology” being developed with gene therapy and tyrosine kinase (TKI) inhibitors, the former of which was used in early trials involving geographic atrophy (GA) , which he considered “one of the most frustrating conditions” for patients and doctors.

However, Sheth noted that gene therapy is still “years away” from its application in daily practice, and that larger and more crucial studies are needed.

But while gene therapy might not be applied in the immediate future, Sheth was optimistic about what deployment would look like in the years to come.

“Ultimately, if you can use gene therapy and leverage, the eye as a drug factory – in other words, treat these patients with surgery or superchoroidal treatment or maybe even intraperitoneal treatment, but then the eye does the heavy lifting and actually produces the therapeutics to neutralize the disease, so you’re talking about reducing that treatment burden,” he said.

To hear more from Dr. Sheth about further developments in the management of pigment dispersion syndrome and the benefits of home optical coherence tomography, please listen to the full episode of DocTalk.

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