April 2016Research at the Lady Davis Institute

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.

Investing in a healthy future for all

Private support is vitally important to the the Lady Davis Institute at the JGH and its leading-edge research into the causes and potential treatments for the most common illnesses.

Donations supplement the funding that public granting agencies provide. This enables the LDI to ensure the continued excellence and growth of existing research programs; recruit first-rank researchers and support their research in priority areas; pursue key areas of research that would not otherwise be funded; and provide critical support to foster new ideas and speed the development and access to novel treatments and therapeutics.

A feature of the Capital Campaign of the JGH Foundation enables donors to target a particular area of LDI research—such as aging, cancer or HIV/AIDS—to support specific researchers and their infrastructure for a specified period.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit the JGH Foundation online  and click on the Campaign tab, or call 514-340-8251.

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.

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