Eyevance Pharmaceuticals has acquired global licensing rights of ophthalmic drug Nexagon, a 30-base antisense oligomer, from OcuNexus Therapeutics which is being developed for the treatment of persistent corneal epithelial defect (PED) that is nonresponsive to standard of care.
The condition where the tissue covering the front of the cornea, called as corneal epithelium, is lost is known as persistent corneal epithelial defect. It can be caused by various factors like chemical and thermal burns, mechanical trauma, topical anesthetic abuse, limbal cell deficiency, exposure and systemic disorders.
Under its plan to develop the ophthalmic drug Nexagon, Eyevance Pharmaceuticals is funding a pivotal clinical trial currently which is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2019.
Commenting on the ophthalmic drug Nexagon, Brian Levy – CEO, OcuNexus Therapeutics, said: “OcuNexus is excited that the first ophthalmic drug in development targeting Cx43 and the inflammasome pathway of inflammation has been acquired by the seasoned ophthalmic team at Eyevance to treat patients with severe trauma that in many cases, despite the best standard of care, will lose vision.
“This technology heralds a landmark event for OcuNexus and importantly, if successful in the clinic, a new era of transformationally treating microvascular disease upstream from other technologies by inhibiting the inflammasome.”
Nexagon, is an unmodified antisense oligodeoxynucleotide that blocks a cell membrane hemichannel forming protein called connexin43 (Cx43), which is overexpressed following an acute injury or in chronic disease conditions. Overexpression of Cx43 leads to pathological prematurely open hemichannels, thereby enabling adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to enter the extracellular space.
Extracellular ATP is known to trigger and perpetuate the inflammasome pathway of immune system to release various proinflammatory cytokines leading to microvascular breakdown, vessel leak and limbal tissue ischemia.
According to Nexagon prevents Cx43 overexpression and the inflammatory cascade, to re-establish limbal microvasculature and fostering regeneration of the corneal epithelium.
Jerry St. Peter – CEO and Director, Eyevance, commenting on the ophthalmic drug Nexagon said: “Eyevance is committed to developing and commercializing innovative eye care products. Accordingly, our acquisition of NEXAGON from OcuNexus represents a landmark deal for our growing organization.
“NEXAGON is a unique product candidate that, if successfully developed, stands to benefit an underserved patient population. We look forward to executing our next phase of clinical development as we continue to build a legacy of innovation in ophthalmics.”