A journey into uncharted territories

Developing innovative treatments for the recently established area of retinal diseases: Feeling like a pioneer at Boehringer Ingelheim.

When you talk with Dr. Ulrike Gräfe-Mody about eyes, her passion for the subject quickly comes to light. “Did you know that the eyes give us approximately 80 percent of the information about what happens around us? Imagine what it’s like for a person with a retinal disease to be impacted by visual impairment and blindness!” says the Head of Retinal Health. “It often threatens our ability to take care of ourselves and others.”

Our focus is on improving the lives of people with retinal diseases.

Dr. Ulrike Gräfe-Mody

In fact, there still is a high and yet unmet medical need for more effective and safe therapies. This motivated Boehringer Ingelheim to enter into the field of Retinal Health. “We first saw the potential to help people with eye diseases as a complication of diabetes. It started with research in diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathies. Going forward we identified new mechanisms and molecules with broader application beyond diabetic eye diseases,” describes Dr. Remko Bakker, Director of the indication group Retinopathy.

Patients with retinal diseases are severely affected on their day to day life and may progress to legal blindness.

Since then, further progress has been made. Boehringer Ingelheim is building a comprehensive pipeline portfolio in Retinal Health with the first three assets already in clinical development. Dedicated scientists from the company are building on existing knowledge and expertise from other disease areas in Human Phama. Other key components of the company’s innovation strategy are relationships with the retinal health community as well as external partnerships. The forward-looking collaboration with the US company Inflammasome Therapeutics in September 2019 is one example to reflect this. Their novel delivery technology using a long-acting degradable intravitreal implant complements Boehringer Ingelheim’s pipeline. “Our focus is on improving the lives of people with retinal diseases,” explains Gräfe-Mody. “We have the ambition to transform retinal health for them by pioneering treatments and technologies.”