NeoVista’s Sights Remain On Underserved AMD Market

eye_macroOne of the largest vision-loss markets is also one of the most underserved in terms of therapeutics. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50, but there are few treatments for it.

AMD comes in two forms: wet and dry. Of the two, wet AMD is less common but can lead to greater vision loss. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the macula, the part of the eye that is responsible for central vision. These vessels tend to be fragile and may leak blood and fluid, causing the macula to become raised. Wet AMD causes damage to the macula, leading to central vision loss.

There is no cure for either form of AMD, although anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth therapy) drugs delivered intraocularly have been shown to restore vision by inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels in the eye. However, the procedure has to be performed multiple times for patients to derive a significant clinical benefit.

Fremont, Calif.-based NeoVista is developing a wet AMD treatment that may provide the vision-restoring benefits of anti-VEGF therapy, but with fewer rounds of treatment. The NeoVista procedure only needs to be performed once, followed by two injections of an anti-VEGF drug. According to Tony Moses, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for NeoVista, the administration of the device plus the administration of as-needed anti-VEGF therapy is showing promising results.

NeoVista’s device delivers a radioactive isotope, called strontium 90, directly onto the retina. Low-dose radiation has demonstrated the ability to shrink ocular tumors, and strontium 90 has been used for over 40 years to treat various eye disorders. In the month following the one-time treatment, the radiation breaks down the DNA structure of the vascular networks causing the compromised vision.

The company is currently conducting a number of clinical trials, including a Phase III U.S. trial for FDA approval, a late-stage UK trial, and a number of Phase II and feasibility trials. “We’re getting similar clinical outcomes to the current standard of care, which is anti-VEGF injections, in terms of efficacy and safety, and we’re reducing greatly the number of injections that a patient requires,” says Mr. Moses. He says that patients have reported improvements in their vision as soon as one month after the procedure. NeoVista is currently beginning its commercial activities in Europe, where it received CE mark approval for its wet AMD device in 2009.

NeoVista is just one of many promising healthcare companies scheduled to present at the OneMedForum San Francisco in January 2011. To learn more about the conference, which connects investors with the firms shaping the future of healthcare and medicine, visit

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