Jason Slakter, MD: Squalamine Lactate Eye Drops in Wet AMD

NOVEMBER 13, 2017
Jenna Payesko


Jason Slakter, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Ohr Pharmaceutical:

This traditional method of treating wet AMD is intraocular injection of an anti-VEGF drug and there are 3 of them used commonly now, 2 approved, 1 off label. And as we've heard at this meeting here at the American Academy of Ophthalmology this year, that there are other drugs in development that may be available soon that are anti-VEGFs and perhaps could last longer than the ones we have now. But they all primarily work by targeting VEGF, the molecule vascular endothelial growth factor in the extra cellular space. So they work by intraocular injection into the vitreous, binding the VEGF molecule in the extra cellular space.

Squalamine is very different — number 1, it's an eye drop, so it's not invasive. Number 2, it is what we call a multi-targeted inhibitor. It's actually taken up inside the cell so it's brought inside the epithelial cell and inside the cell it binds to calmodulin. Calmodulin is an important molecule in downstream activity for a number of different receptors. So by a single drug, like squalamine, we can block multiple different receptors involved in the growth, maturation and scaring that's involved with neo-vascular disease. So it makes it a very different product.

There's another important way to think about this product, and even any kind of a topical therapy. When we give an injection in the eye, we're giving a bolus administration with a very high dosage drug. So anti-VEGF is very high dose, and over time the levels come down. We re-bolus and the levels come down. That's one approach to treating disease. By taking an eye drop, every day, twice a day, what you're doing is providing chronic suppressive therapy to a condition so you don't have big swings in therapy, and everyday you're maintaining a constant therapeutic level. So our drug is acting at different targets, and by the nature of the targets delivery, it's acting in a different way of treating the chronic disease.


 

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