New hope for dry eye sufferers
LDI research is basis for potential treatment of dry eye disease
People who suffer from chronic dry eye disease have new hope for relief, with the development of a promising treatment based on a discovery by a research team in the Lady Davis Institute (LDI) at the JGH. Along with his colleagues, Dr. H. Uri Saragovi, a Senior LDI Investigator and a Professor of Pharmacology at McGill University, has determined that tavilermide induces the production of mucin, a small molecule that is a crucial lubricant in tears.
“Since there is currently no treatment available for dry eye disease, we are very excited that tavilermide, taken in the form of an eye drop, can help millions of patients,” says Dr. Saragovi.
This technology has been licensed by Allergan, a leading global pharmaceutical company, from Mimetogen Pharmaceuticals, a Montreal biotechnology company, for an up-front payment of $50 million, plus potential milestone and royalty fees.
Phase 2 clinical trials, which have already been completed with 1 per cent tavilermide, demonstrated significant improvement in the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease over a placebo, with no adverse side effects whatsoever.
Two phase 3 trials have already been successfully completed. It is expected that the final phase 3 trial, undertaken by Allergan, will quickly confirm its designation as a treatment for all stages of dry eye disease, enabling it to be brought to market shortly thereafter.
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Dry eye disease, which afflicts more than 25 million North Americans, first presents itself as an inability to produce moisture to lubricate the eye. As a result of the constant irritation that ensues, the condition is compounded by inflammation. Since there is no cure or effective treatment, the condition eventually leads to the degeneration of the sensory nerves in the cornea. However, by stimulating the production of mucin, tavilermide keeps the eye moist and prevents inflammation; it may also stimulate re-innervation.
Dr. Saragovi’s discovery is beating the odds, which are stacked against any scientific discovery making the long journey from lab-bench to clinic. Only one in 100 pharmaceutical discoveries achieves a phase 3 trial, and only one in 10 of those actually gets to market, where it can help patients. If the compound is successfully commercialized, the JGH and McGill could benefit financially.