Exploring New Horizons in Ophthalmology Care with Gene Therapy


If you’ve been keeping an eye on recent developments in ophthalmic care, then you’ll know that several new therapeutic agents that had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in recent months, including ranibizumab delivered via Port Delivery System (PDS) and faricimab, the latter of which became the first-of-its-kind intravitreal bispecific biologic therapy for both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema.

But the recent advancements in ophthalmology don’t stop there. As Veeral Sheth, MD, Director of Clinical Trials at University Retina would explain, there is so much going on in the world of eye care that it’s been “hard to keep track of all the work”.

“That's exciting, because that means we get new therapies for patients, and we get to give them additional hope and reduce treatment burden and give them better results,” Sheth said. “Patients ask all the time, ‘Doc, am I going to be doing these injections forever and ever?’, and the answer is only if nothing changes from the standpoint of what becomes available. So, the fact is that we do have a lot on the horizon.”

Sheth spoke of the promise of “game changing technology” being developed with gene therapy and tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), the former of which has been utilized in early trials involving geographic atrophy (GA), which he considered to be “one of the most frustrating” conditions for patients and doctors alike.

However, Sheth noted that gene therapy is still “years away” from being applied in daily practice, and that larger and more pivotal studies are needed.

But while gene therapy might not be applied in the immediate future, Sheth was optimistic about what rollout would look like in the intervening years.

“Ultimately, if you can use gene therapy and leverage, the eye as a factory for the medication- in other words, treating these patients with a surgical treatment or a super choroidal treatment or maybe even an intraperitoneal treatment, but then the eye does the heavy lifting and actually produces the therapeutic to neutralize the disease, then you're talking about reducing that treatment burden,” he said.

To hear more from Dr. Sheth on additional developments in the management of pigment dispersion syndrome and the benefits of home-based optical coherence tomography, please listen to the full episode of DocTalk.

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