NeuroScientific Biopharmaceuticals (ASX: NSB) has revealed positive results from a glaucoma study on pig models that indicates the “disease-modifying potential” of its lead drug candidate EmtinB.
The drug developer today announced outcomes from a pre-clinical efficacy study in its ophthalmology program, using EmtinB as a therapy for glaucoma – an eye condition that permanently damages the optic nerve and retinal ganglion cells and can lead to irreversible blindness.
EmtinB is a novel therapeutic peptide administered via injection and is most advanced as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Pig models were used as the closest experiment to replicate severe human glaucoma pathology.
According to NeuroScientific, preliminary data obtained from the current study showed that injecting EmtinB into the eye of anesthetised pigs one hour prior to the elevation of intraocular ocular pressure (IOP) was able to reverse the changes caused by the pressure.
Importantly, statistically significant changes were detected in the principal site of glaucoma damage, the laminar region of the optic nerve head.
In addition, increases in the levels of neurofilaments, tubulin and microtubule-associated proteins indicated the neuroprotective effect of EmtinB due to positive changes in cytoskeleton and axonal microarchitecture.
NeuroScientific chief executive officer and managing director Matthew Liddelow said the results were “better than expected and unprecedented in this model”.
“Given that we only had a six-hour window for EmtinB to demonstrate its neuroprotective effect at the molecular level and the severity of the IOP model that mimics the worst human pathology, we believe in the high potential of EmtinB as a disease modifying agent in future human studies of glaucoma,” he said.
NeuroScientific said it is progressing the safety and toxicology program of EmtinB to be concluded this year with first human studies to be initiated later in 2020.
World Glaucoma Week
NeuroScientific’s timely news comes during World Glaucoma Week, a joint initiative by the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Committee aimed at raising global awareness on eye health.
Glaucoma is considered a globally unmet medical challenge and the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease.
According to the World Health Organisation, the condition will affect around 80 million people this year and lead to 11.2 million cases of bilateral blindness.
“We strongly believe that our studies in rabbits, pigs and subsequently humans can lead to the paradigm shift in the glaucoma field and offer a new foundation for the development of novel mechanism-based therapy, and preventive intervention for glaucoma,” NeuroScientific chairman Brian Leedman said.
“These studies may also have a wider impact on discovering the pathogenesis and therapeutics of other neurodegenerative disorders in the eye, brain and spinal cord such as macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and spinal injury,” he added.
By midday trade, NeuroScientific shares were more than 25% up at $0.195.