New drug silences connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and repair.
by Dan Roberts
One of the most serious causes of vision loss is development of scar tissue on, in, or under the retina. People can develop retinal scarring from severe myopia, ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Scarring results from inflammation, caused by irritation of the retina. Severe occurences can cause swelling of the retina, wrinkling of the surface tissue, or even retinal detachment.
Scarring cannot usually be safely removed. This means that, even if the underlying cause is successfully treated, vision remains obstructed or distorted. The presence of scarring can also prohibit qualification for clinical trials of future treatments like stem cell transplantation and genetic replacement.
The best approach to the problem, then, might be to prevent scarring in the first place. This is being studied by RXI Pharmaceuticals, a company in Marlborough, Massachusetts. On August 12, 2015, they announced the start of a Phase 1/2 trial in Ophthalmology to evaluate the safety and clinical activity of RXI-109, a compound that targets connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a key regulator in scar formation.
The company has been researching RX-109 for use in the skin, and now they have received approval by the FDA to apply it to retinal scarring resulting from neovascularization in wet macular degeneration. By blocking the retina’s natural response to inflammation, one of the most serious ramifications of the disease could someday be eliminated.
Information for this article was obtained from:
“What Is Retinal Scarring?” by Mary McMahon