Developing Novel Treatments for Diabetic and other Retinal Degenerative Diseases
According to the World Health Organization, the global diabetes pandemic has quadrupled from slightly over 100 million people in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, while the global prevalence has risen from 4.7% to 8.5% over the same time period.
Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, accounting for approximately 3% of all causes of blindness and medium to severe vision impairment.
Over a decade of research into diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema in the laboratories of Professor Przemyslaw (Mike) Sapieha at Maisonneuve Rosemont Hospital in Montreal has resulted in the elucidation of the roles that a family of proteins called semaphorins, and semaphorin 3A in particular, play in this disease.
Semaphorin 3A (SEMA3A) has been shown to increase vascular permeability, promote retinal inflammation as well as cellular senescence and inhibit retinal vascular regeneration in rodent models. SemaThera has developed a family of biological traps that are designed to bind and sequester SEMA3A and other cytokines associated with diabetic retinopathy. Studies using several orthologous models of retinal vascular diseases have shown that our biological traps bind and neutralize SEMA3A in vivo and consequently reduce the amount of avascular areas by facilitating desirable physiological re-vascularization, reducing retinal vascular leakage and reducing inflammation.