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 and cellular senescence; and to 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 retinopathies.
Animal studies using the mouse oxygen-induced retinopathy model (OIR) have shown that a number of different biological traps bind SEMA3A in vivo, reduce the amount of avascular areas of the retina and facilitate normal re-vascularization.