Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual impairment in elderly patients. Currently, about 11 million people in the United States have some form of AMD. The number of people living with AMD worldwide is expected to exceed 190 million by 2020. Intravitreal administration of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs has become the standard treatment for AMD.
However, more than half of the patients on anti-VEGF therapies showed evidence of persistent fluid on time-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT). Emerging science and clinical evidence strongly implicate the apelin-APJ pathway in the pathogenesis of AMD in a VEGF-independent manner. We are developing a novel monoclonal antibody (mAb) that can help us interrogate the role of the apelin-APJ pathway in AMD and assess its therapeutic potential.
Based on the mechanism of this mAb, it can also be employed as a novel therapy for other eye diseases that cause vision impairment, including diabetic macular edema (DME), a disease characterized by an accumulation of fluid in the macula due to leaking blood vessels, and diabetic retinopathy, a microvascular complication of diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina.