Swiss biotech company Gene Signal has announced the launch of phase III trials of an advanced therapeutic ophthalmic solution aimed at preventing corneal graft rejection.
GS-101 is based on an antisense oligonucleotide approach, which aims to block the pathways leading to the formation of blood vessels in the cornea. This approach uses short DNA fragments that specifically target and block the production of a protein that is required for the formation and growth of new blood vessels.
Corneal grafts are the most frequently performed transplant surgery, with more than 40,000 such procedures carried out worldwide each year. However, the five-year failure rate is around 35%, and there is currently no therapy available.
One of the main reasons for graft failure is the immune response of the body, which in certain circumstances leads to the creation of new blood vessels (neovascularisation), inducing an immune response to the donor graft that can prompt immunological corneal graft rejection.
In a phase II study, GS-101 eye drops showed a significant regression of corneal neovascularisation.
Researcher Professor Claus Cursiefen, of the Department of Ophthalmology at Friedrich Alexander University in Germany, said: “These interim results suggest GS-101 eye drops to be an effective and safe approach to specifically inhibit and regress active corneal neovascularisation.”
Copyright Press Association 2008