Novel glaucoma drug delivery platform described at ARVO conference

Startup Envisia Therapeutics is presenting the results of its ophthalmology research and technology allowing intracameral drug delivery at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2014 annual meeting in Orlando, FL. Making use of its novel drug delivery platform, Envisia is developing a continuous treatment for glaucoma.

The company uses its proprietary PRINT (Particle Replication In Non-Wetting Templates) Platform to deliver medicinal particles into the eye. "The Print Platform allows us to make unique particles of almost any substance. So we have leveraged that platform to make formulations that no one's been able to make before," said Envisia chief scientific officer Ben Yerxa.

"It's a particle molding technology that came out of the semiconductor industry," he explained. "When you think of what they can do on a microchip, they can etch tiny features on the surface of a silicon wafer down to about a 45 nanometer leveraged that platform to make formulations that no one's been able to make before," said Yerxa. "So whatever can be done on a silicon wafer, we have a way to make a special kind of mold of that kind of surface and peel it off."

The specially designed molds contain the medicinal particles in the prespecified configuration. Next, the mold's adhesives are dissolved away and the particles are released, explained founder Joseph DeSimone in a YouTube video.

"What's important is that this [mold and release process] can be done on a nanoscale down to a 45 to 50 nanometer resolution (45 to 50 billionths of a meter) or up to say 2 or 3 millimeters, so we have several orders of magnitude that we can work with in terms of molding particles," said Yerxa.

Envisia's most advanced program is the ENV515 Intracameral Implant, a polymer drug delivery system using an extended release formulation of the prostaglandin analogue travoprost to treat glaucoma. The Print Platform enabled Envisia to create a delivery system that meets the precise requirements of the eye and can be administered via intracameral injection, according to the company's research abstract. It says that ENV515 lowered intraocular pressure by 30% in beagles for 24 weeks following implantation.

"That's an important finding because typically the disease is being treated once a day with a topical drop and this product could treat it continuously 24 hours a day 7 days a week," Yerxa said. He expects Envisia to file an Investigational New Drug application in the fall of this year and clinical trials to commence in Q4.

Envisia is also presenting data describing its advancements in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and postoperative inflammation and pain at the May 4-8 ARVO conference. The Research Triangle Park, NC, company was spun off of nanotechnology company Liquidia Technologies--the developer of the Print Platform--in November 2013. Envisia attracted $25 million in Series A funding from several prominent VCs upon inception.

Also featured in FierceDrugDelivery are the advances made in ophthalmology by Clearside Biomedical, as presented at the ARVO conference.

- read the release