Visual impairment is one of the most common health conditions that negatively impact millions of Americans’ physical and mental health. Visual impairment is defined as 20/40 vision, or worse, in the better eye even with eyeglasses, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Minor eye impairment conditions such as astigmatism aren’t significantly serious and therefore do not necessarily mean a person has “bad eyes,” according to the Kellogg Eye Center of the University of Michigan. On the other hand, serious eye conditions such as glaucoma can become detrimental if the damage continues to persist. Notably, glaucoma is one of the most common ophthalmic disorders encountered in primary and secondary care. Glaucoma is classified as a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital for optimal eye vision, according to the Mayo Clinic. The damage is commonly caused by an abnormally high pressure buildup in the eye. Unfortunately, many forms of glaucoma do not have early warning signs and can ultimately lead to vision loss or complete blindness. Additionally, glaucoma generally affects older adults, but it can occur at any age. As such, approximately three million Americans are affected by glaucoma, but the number is also expected to soar to four million by 2030, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. And despite the number of treatments available, medical practitioners are continuously working to develop new therapies to effectively aid patients suffering from glaucoma. According to data compiled by Fortune Business Insights, the global glaucoma therapeutics market was valued at USD 6.27 Billion in 2018. By 2026, the market is expected to reach USD 10.09 Billion while registering a CAGR of 6.1%. Q BioMed Inc. (OTC: QBIO), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN), Bausch Health Companies Inc. (NYSE: BHC), Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AERI)
Typically, medical professionals recommend getting regular dilated eye examinations as well as practicing proper eye safety in order to prevent glaucoma. However, in more developed stages, patients are required to seek medical attention to treat glaucoma. Often times, patients undergo eye surgery or turn to medicated eye drops to treat glaucoma. As such, the therapeutics market is flooded with branded medications and generic drugs that are commonly used to reduce elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and to prevent damage to the optic nerve. However, in some cases, glaucoma can continue to progress even after the prescribed dose of medication is completed. Subsequently, patients are required to seek further medical attention. Generally, prostaglandin analogues are preferred as a front-line treatment because of their effectiveness in reducing the IOP and fewer side effects compared to other treatments. Prostaglandin analogues are eye drops that works towards increasing the outflow of intraocular fluid from the eye. Fortune Business Insights noted that prostaglandin analogues accounted for 40.2% of the glaucoma therapeutics market share in 2018 and are expected to remain dominant throughout the forecasted duration. Moreover, other drug classes in glaucoma therapy such as beta blockers, alpha-adrenergic agonists, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, and combination drugs are also widely popular in the marketplace. Ian Conner, MD., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Chief of Ophthalmology at UPMC Shadyside notes that this is “an exciting time in the treatment of glaucoma. There are a number of new medical and surgical options in the past few years, with more on the immediate horizon. In the next decade, we expect a complete revolution in the treatment of glaucoma, including sustained release medications to limit the burden on patients, and better and safer surgeries that can be used at any stage of the disease,” according to The Eye & Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh.
Q BioMed Inc. (OTCQB: QBIO) announced that, “its technology partner, Mannin, has received a $7.5M grant from the German state of Saxony. Mannin is a research-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutics for vascular diseases. It was founded in July 2012 and is led by President and CEO, Dr. George Nikopoulos. Q BioMed and Mannin have been partners since 2015.
The overall objective of the grant is to fund the development of novel pharmaceuticals and biologic treatments for glaucoma. There have been few innovations in glaucoma drug development in recent history and glaucoma remains a leading cause of blindness in Europe. More innovation and solutions are required to address the unmet needs of more than 12 million Europeans who suffer from this disease.
The approval of the grant means that Q BioMed and Mannin can significantly accelerate the development of these therapeutics. Denis Corin, CEO of Q BioMed, said of the grant, ‘We are thrilled that we will be able to speed the development of these promising therapeutics and bring new innovation to glaucoma patients as soon as possible. Our partnership with Mannin and now, the government of Saxony is important to the advancement of this unique drug platform and we look forward to supporting the build-out of the Mannin European headquarters in Leipzig.’
Mannin is leveraging two distinct modes of action to reduce the intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma, utilizing different routes of administration and dosing regimens. Mannin is currently working on the preclinical development of a small molecule pharmaceutical eye-drop as well as a novel recombinant protein injectable biologic. This approach increases the probability of success of developing a new therapy that is optimized for the needs of glaucoma patients. Additionally, Mannin is exploring other therapeutic opportunities using these molecules for vascular diseases.
George Nikopoulos, President and CEO of Mannin, stated, ‘We are very encouraged by the confidence and enthusiasm the government of Saxony has shown in our research, and we are committed to making accelerated progress through their investment.’
Q BioMed and Mannin intend to announce further details regarding the research program later this year.