iCo Therapeutics is committed to developing or modifying existing drugs for a range of conditions within ‘isolated biological environments’, such as the eye, spinal cord or joints. Focusing on these systems allows a drug to reach commercialization faster and more efficiently since non-systemic distribution has the potential for fewer risks and safety issues.
By focusing efforts on development instead of research, iCo’s business model aims to acquire the rights to drugs that are either off-patent, currently approved or near commercialization and develop them by redosing or reformulating them for new uses in isolated biological environments. Subsequent development by iCo of these therapeutics may include employing drug delivery technologies—such as sustained release, biodegradable matrices and viral vectors—in order to enable local administration and extend patent coverage.
There is a significant decrease in development risk associated with targeting existing drugs, including:
- Reduced risk of adverse events since clinical testing and systemic use in humans has already been established.
- Scale-up and manufacturing issues have already been addressed since clinical grade material has been made.
- The target and mechanism of action has been identified.
iCo is currently focused on utilizing its expertise in ophthalmology to build an ocular franchise, which provides further efficiencies to the development and commercialization process including:
- Much smaller amounts of drugs can often be used for local administration into the eye, which may result in lower manufacturing and production costs.
- Many unmet medical conditions in the eye still exist that could be treated with local administration of a drug.
The first product in iCo’s ocular franchise is iCo-007 (ISIS 13650), which it licensed from California-based ISIS Pharmaceuticals, for the treatment of various eye diseases caused by the formation of new blood vessels such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy.