FIGHTING FOR SIGHT

Millions of people are affected by retinal diseases worldwide, and the medical need is therefore very high. Boehringer Ingelheim is working together with external partners on numerous new treatment options.

Diseases of the retina have a profound effect on people’s lives, negatively impacting their ability to perform everyday tasks such as reading, driving, or maintaining their independence. Access to therapies as well as relevant and helpful information is therefore very important.

Retinal Health is a relatively new therapeutic area for Boehringer Ingelheim. The company collaborates with academic and biotech partners in the development of machine-learning technology and novel drug delivery systems aimed at improving existing treatments and developing new therapies.

“External partnerships and collaborations enable us to combine the potential of our own pipeline with the strengths of our partners and thus achieve crucial progress in the treatment of retinal diseases,” emphasizes Dr. Ulrike Gräfe-Mody, Global Head of Retinal Health. “We further expanded our research and development activities for retinal diseases in 2020. The first compounds are already in clinical development.”

Boehringer Ingelheim currently has many external collaborations worldwide; the partnerships with Inflammasome Therapeutics and CDR-Life are examples. “Inflammasome Therapeutics’ novel drug delivery system will deliver our compound directly inside the eye where it is gradually released. Our goal is to reduce the hospital appointments from currently every four to eight weeks to once a year in patients with the wet form of age-related macular degeneration. Together, we hope to improve real-world efficacy and patients’ quality of life,” explains Dr. Victor Chong, Global Head of Medicine, Retinal Health at Boehringer Ingelheim. “By working with CDR-Life, we are striving to develop an antibody fragment- based therapy for geographic atrophy, the dry form of macular degeneration. Currently, there is no approved treatment for this severe form of macular degeneration.”

Partnerships with national and international patient organizations such as Retina International are also particularly important for the development of new therapeutic options. The main focus is guiding and influencing the course of research into rare, inherited, or age-related retinal diseases. The association also facilitates access to early detection services and new treatment methods to its members. In addition, information and education about retinal diseases also plays an important role. “Regarding our partnerships with patient organizations, we focus on integrating patient needs into our development strategies and awareness programs. Boehringer Ingelheim also benefits from the direct contact with patients and their families,” explains Richard Pitt, Global Patient Advocacy Relations. “This means we can optimize how Boehringer Ingelheim’s medicines and services address patients’ unmet needs in terms of treatment options and quality of life.”

Retina International, an umbrella organization with its headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, has given voice to over 40 patient-run charities and foundations for decades.