iCo Therapeutics is developing iCo-007, a second generation antisense inhibitor targeting C-raf kinase messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), for the treatment of retinal neovascular diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (including diabetic macular edema). These conditions are characterized by new blood vessel growth and increased vascular permeability. Drug products that prevent the growth of new blood vessels and inhibit increased vascular permeability may have the potential to treat neovascular diseases, including diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. iCo-007 has the potential to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels and increased vascular permeability by binding to the mRNA molecule and decreasing the production of C-raf kinase through which multiple growth factors, including VEGF, signal. It is becoming more apparent that multiple growth factors are implicated in the etiology of diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy and not only VEGF.
Antisense therapeutics based on second generation antisense chemistry seem to have increased target binding affinity, improved resistance to degradation and decreased toxicities. Due to these improvements, second generation antisense therapeutics degrade more slowly when introduced to the human body. The primary advantage of slower degradation is less frequent dosing, which means that therapeutics based on second generation antisense technology may be less intrusive and more cost efficient.
iCo-007 may also have a potential for treatment of certain oncology indications, including ovarian cancer, as C-raf kinase is the predominant raf isoform responsible for regulating cellular growth in ovarian cancer. iCo Therapeutics may pursue clinical development opportunities for oncology indications through partnerships or out-licensing arrangements with third parties who have competencies in these areas.
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a complication of diabetes that leads to progressive damage to the small blood vessels of the eye. The condition affects an estimated 5.6 million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness in adults of working age (20-74) in industrialized countries (Decision Resources, Inc.). According to the American Diabetes Association, in the U.S., diabetes is responsible for 8% of legal blindness and each year, between 12,000 to 24,000 people lose their sight because of diabetes. At present there are no therapeutic drugs approved for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy.