• By Anni Delfaro
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Cornea/External Disease, Neuro-Ophthalmology/Orbit, Retina/Vitreous

    A weekly roundup of ophthalmic news from around the web.

    Your pupils’ response to a brain teaser may warn of Alzheimer disease later in life, scientists reported in the Neurobiology of Aging. Pupil dilation during mind-boggling tasks is driven by a cluster of neurons in the brainstem—the same cluster where defective Tau proteins start piling up in the years preceeding Alzheimer disease. To explore this connection, the team asked healthy, middle-aged adults to recall a series of 9-digit number sequences. Those with a high genetic risk of Alzheimer disease showed greater pupil dilation during the task than those with low risk, suggesting that cognitive tests could someday uncover the disease before the first signs of decline. UC San Diego Health

    ProQR Therapeutics has unlocked fast-track status for their autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa drug, QR-1123. The FDA approved a phase 1/2 trial to see if intravitreal injections of QR-1123 squelch toxic versions of the rhodopsin protein, allowing healthy versions to run the show. There are no existing treatments for the condition, so the RNA drug is first in line to fill that gap. ProQR

    The FDA also accelerated their review of Horizon Therapeutics’ teprotumumab for thyroid eye disease. The move shortens the approval process from 10 months to 6, in response to phase 2 and 3 findings that patients treated with the monoclonal antibody showed promising improvements in proptosis, double vision and quality of life. If approved, teprotumumab could become the first FDA-approved medicine for active thyroid eye disease. Horizon Therapeutics

    Google has banned ads for unproven stem cell therapies, like those that blinded 3 patients with AMD (shown above) in recent years. “Untested, deceptive treatments” can endanger consumers, the company explained. “These treatments can lead to dangerous health outcomes and we feel they have no place on our platforms.” The ban includes treatments with emerging clinical and scientific evidence, but insufficient data to support widespread use. Google

    Encouraging findings emerged from a phase 1 study of Oxurion NV’s diabetic macular edema drug. A single intravitreal injection of THR-149 improved BCVA by 7.5 letters within 14 days, the company reported, and the benefits persisted for at least 3 months. Investigators tested 3 ascending doses of the plasma kallikrein inhibitor in 12 people with center-involved DME. No safety or toxicity concerns emerged. Oxurion NV

     

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    Don’t miss last week’s roundup: Pointed look, blinding diet, reprogrammed cornea