In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy (DR), there are limited signs and symptoms of disease, and consequently all patients with a diagnosis of diabetes should have their eyes examined by a physician at least annually to check for diabetic retinopathy and monitor disease progression. Even at these early stages of diabetic retinopathy, permanent damage to the retinal tissue has already occurred. Thus, there is a very large medical need for developing more effective and less burdensome therapies that can both treat diabetic retinopathy and reverse the disease pathology which otherwise leads to retinal capillary break-down and the associated tissue loss in the neurovascular structures of the eye resulting in permeant vision loss.
Today, laser photocoagulation, steroids and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) therapies are the main treatment options for diabetic retinopathy. However, these treatments have limited efficacy and can result in severe adverse events including visually threatening complications from pan-retinal photocoagulation and other toxicities [Falavarjani 2013 and Russell 1985]. The leading anti-VEGF therapies are primarily used to treat diabetic macular edema (DME), which is a serious complication of DR that leads to central vision loss and is most prominent in the later stages of disease.
The greatest unmet medical need is better identification and treatment of patients with moderate to severe diabetic retinopathy before the progressive retinal capillary break-down occurs and these early lesions cause vascular leakage, edema and permanent vision loss.
Falavarjani, K.G. and Q.D. Nguyen (2013). ‘Adverse events and complications associated with intravitreal injection of anti-VEGF agents: a review of literature’. Eye (Lond) 2013: 27(7): 787-94
Russell, P.W et al. (1985). ‘Visual function after pan-retinal photocoagulation: a survey’. Diabetes Care, 1985 8(1): 57-63