Ocular Therapeutix launched a Phase II trial of its punctum plugs, a possible eye-drop killer for patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension.
The company’s travoprost-releasing punctum plug, designed to fit into the entry of the tear duct, releases drug therapy to the surface of the eye over several months.
The therapy may be better than regular eye-drop use, the current standard for treatment, according to a press release.
Building on the Bedford, Mass.-based company’s Phase I feasibility trial, during which patients where given the plugs for a duration of 1 month, Ocular Therapeutix’s Phase II study will evaluate the devices for a longer period of time.
"Having demonstrated proof of concept in our feasibility study, we have extended the length of drug delivery to two months for the pilot Phase II trial," president & CEO Amar Sawhney said in prepared remarks. "Extending treatment duration for the disease is a key milestone for our company’s path to commercialization."
The Phase II study will enroll 20 patients at a hospital in South Africa, measuring changes in intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma or ocular hypertension.
In a video interview with MassDevice.com, Sawhney told us how he hopes his company’s eye-treatment products will make eye drops out of the system.
"This has been the holy grail of ophthalmology for a long period of time, to find a way to be able to tackle chronic long-term diseases like glaucoma," Sawhney told us. "When I talk to glaucoma patients who are not able or don’t remember to take their drops, we may think it’s a simple thing but they can’t do it."
Some studies report that up to 60% of glaucoma patients do not use their eye drops as directed, which can lead to costly and invasive eye surgeries, vision impairment and blindness, according to a press release.