Dedicated to developing treatments for serious eye disorders, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ: EYPT) pipeline includes a proprietary technology for sustained intraocular drug delivery known as Durasert. The technology supports the use of EYP-1901, an investigational sustained delivery intravitreal anti-VEGF treatment initially targeting wet age-related macular degeneration, which can cause severe vision problems.
To learn more about Durasert and another drug delivery technology from the company known as Verisome, we reached out to Said Saim, a senior vice president and CTO of EyePoint Pharmaceuticals.
In the following interview, Saim provides an overview of EyePoint Pharmaceuticals’ drug delivery technologies and product pipeline. (Also check out our conversation with EyePoint’s CEO.)
Can you give an overview of Durasert and Verisome and a brief overview of your product pipeline?
Saim: EyePoint Pharmaceuticals specializes in developing sustained-release drug delivery products that treat debilitating, chronic diseases of the eye. It possesses and commercializes two proprietary delivery technologies — Durasert and Verisome — that have been shown to control the delivery of various therapeutic molecules over extended periods of time in FDA-approved products designed to treat debilitating diseases of the eye that can cause blindness.
Durasert Technology is a miniaturized, injectable drug delivery system for small molecules that can be administered in an office setting and is designed to deliver over three years with a single injection. The product is a miniaturized insert that fits inside a needle as small as 27 gauge and can be injected into the vitreous humor– the gel-like fluid that fills the back of the eye. Intravitreal injections provide an avenue for treating retinal, macular and other challenging and debilitating diseases of the eye. The compounds that work best with Durasert are those that need to be delivered over a longer period. To date, the technology has been used in four U.S. FDA-approved products utilizing Durasert – addressing diseases that include cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), uveitis and diabetic macular edema (DME). Products designed for development on the Durasert platform may be either bioerodible or non-bioerodible.
The Verisome technology is a bioerodible drug delivery formulation for controlling the release of therapeutic agents in the eye for extended periods. The technology is versatile and can support a wide range of products individually formulated to meet the requirements of a given active agent and the demands of a specific clinical situation. Offering sustained release of a compound for three weeks to six months, Verisome is a hydrophobic liquid suspension formula that is placed in the posterior chamber of the eye. More specifically, in a Verisome-utilizing product, a tiny droplet containing a molecule such as a steroid is placed behind the iris immediately following cataract surgery to help minimize or avoid post-surgical inflammation. It allows the steroid to release over a period of time. It significantly reduces the need for a patient to manually use conventional eye drops for this purpose – something that is typically prescribed to be done daily for four weeks. When a healthcare professional gives a patient this droplet using Verisome, patients are then only responsible for self-administration of antibiotic drops to reduce the risk of infection and NSAID drops if they have pain.
Currently, EyePoint’s R&D pipeline is focused on back-of-the-eye diseases and is Durasert-based, leveraging this proven and validated technology to drive growth. EyePoint is currently developing two new products:
- EYP-1901 is an investigational, bioerodible, six-month release, intravitreal insert formulation of vorolanib – a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of all receptor subtypes for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). It is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1 trial for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), with additional exploration of diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion applications.
- YUTIQ 50 is a non-bioerodible, six-month intravitreal insert being investigated for the potential twice-yearly treatment of uveitis affecting the posterior segment of the eye.
From a drug-delivery perspective, how do those products compare to others in the marketplace?
Saim: Durasert is the only validated, commercial-stage technology of its kind – a polymer-based technology that provides a microgram to sub-microgram per day release of a given compound, offering a constant, zero-order release rate over an extended period that can be customized for six months to three years. Further, it is highly efficient in that up to 90% of the insert can be the drug itself, which translates to distinctly high drug loading into a formulation.
Verisome has been shown to have a positive impact on patient care and vision outcomes. It is a unique and convenient “pearl” that releases a steroid over time – via single-dose administration in-office by a healthcare professional just after cataract surgery – and eliminates the need for patients to be responsible for giving themselves 70 drops of a steroid over a four-week period, which has historically been the standard of care. This has been an area where adherence can become an issue. As such, it has been of concern to healthcare professionals – because if post-surgical inflammation is not properly controlled, patients can face complicating side effects and, in some cases, even need more surgery. Verisome functions to offer healthcare professionals more control over postoperative care for patients and provides a solution that can benefit both physicians and patients.
With Durasert and Verisome technologies, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals introduced two innovative paradigm shifts into the ophthalmologic industry – with a product that can release over the course of up to three years into the vitreous and a product that minimizes the burden on patients in terms of how many eye drops they need to administer after cataract surgery, respectively. Both offer options that are defined by simplicity, supported by efficacy, and optimized for patient care.