- PYC Therapeutics (PYC) has developed a new drug candidate to address diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration — the two leading causes of blindness
- Retinal diseases occur when new blood vessels grow in the retina, destroying the retinal tissue and, consequently, the patient’s sight
- These conditions are currently treated by Eylea and Lucentis, which are Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) inhibitors
- Unfortunately, VEGF inhibitors are believed to cause cells in the retina to die if the drugs are used for a prolonged period
- PYC’s new drug candidate retains the benefits of the current therapies while overcoming the downsides through its unique mechanism of action
- Company shares are up 13.3 per cent and are trading for 17 cents
PYC Therapeutics (PYC) has filed for patent protection for a new drug to address the leading causes of global blindness, diabetic retinopathy (DR) and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD).
Retinal diseases occur when new blood vessels grow in the retina that destroys the retinal tissue and, as a consequence, sight. This new blood vessel growth is caused by a protein called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF).
Antibodies that inhibit VEGF, such as Eylea and Lucentis, are the current gold standard treatment for proliferative retinal diseases. Together, these medications generate more than US$10 billion (roughly A$13.9 billion) in sales per year.
Recently, the industry has recognised the importance of another ‘pro-survival’ role of VEGF. VEGF supports the maintenance and viability of cells in the retina and VEGF inhibitors successfully stop the destruction of retinal tissue due to new blood vessel growth. However, these inhibitors also remove the critical ‘pro-survival signal and are believed to lead to retinal nerve cells dying over time.
Therefore, a better therapeutic strategy is to stop the growth of new blood vessels while still retaining the ‘pro-survival’ function of VEGF.
If PYC’s drug candidate were to achieve this, it would improve treatment options for the 50 per cent of Diabetic Retinopathy patients who fail to respond to current therapies.
The company’s drug candidate acts to promote expression of VEGF165b (‘anti’ new blood vessel isoform) over VEGF165a (‘pro’ new blood vessel isoform) during RNA splicing.
PYC has designed and validated an Antisense Oligonucleotide (ASO) to achieve this ‘isoform switch’ and has filed for intellectual property protection for the preferred ASO sequences identified.
“The ability to ‘switch’ isoforms is one of the great advantages of antisense oligonucleotide therapeutics, and we are excited that we have been able to leverage this strategy as a potential treatment for diabetic retinopathy and nAMD,” Chief Scientific Officer Professor Sue Fletcher said.
PYC will now progress the lead drug candidate into formal pre-clinical efficacy
Company shares are up 13.3 per cent and are trading for 17 cents at 1:42 pm AEDT.