• By Keng Jin Lee and Kanaga Rajan
    Cornea/External Disease, Retina/Vitreous, Uveitis

    A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

    Aerie Pharmaceuticals will add an experimental dry eye drug to its portfolio with the acquisition of Avizorex Pharma. The lead product candidate, AVX-012, is a novel neurosensory drug that recently posted positive phase 2a results. A larger phase 2b trial is expected to commence in late 2020. Aerie Pharmaceuticals

    A new steroid-sparing drug for uveitic glaucoma has gained orphan drug designation in Europe, according to Tarsius Pharma. The Israeli-based biotech firm has not disclosed the makeup of the drug, only noting that it is a “patented, proprietary new molecule which was developed to re-engineer the immune system.” Tarsius Pharma

    Meanwhile, the FDA awarded orphan drug designation to an RNA-based treatment for autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. The first-in-class drug is designed to suppress mutated forms of rhodopsin without affecting production of the normal versions of the protein. “It highlights the unmet need for patients with this progressive disease causing blindness,” explained ProQR’s CEO, Daniel de Boer. With a fast-track designation already in hand, the drug is expected to enter a first-in-human phase 1/2 clinical trial later this year. ProQR

    The quality of stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) tissues can be screened using an AI-based system, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The approach uses deep neural networks trained to check for indicators of RPE maturity and function such as transepithelial resistance and endothelial growth factor secretion. According to researchers, their technique can be used to streamline delivery of tissues to patients with AMD who require RPE replacement. NEI, Journal of Clinical Investigation

    Hamburglar is a small blind pup stealing hearts and noses in a recent episode of Amanda to the Rescue on Animal Planet. Blind in both eyes since birth, the playful canine has a penchant for nipping at everyone he meets—likely because he uses his mouth rather than his eyes to navigate the world. The episode details the challenges in training a blind dog and correcting his mouthy habits. Animal Planet