RXI-109 May Reduce Retinal Scarring

New drug silences connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and repair.

by Dan Roberts
(Updated August 2018)

One of the most serious causes of vision loss is development of scar tissue on, in, or under the retina. People can develop retinal scarring from severe myopia, ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Scarring results from inflammation, caused by irritation of the retina. Severe occurences  can cause swelling of the retina, wrinkling of the surface tissue, or even retinal detachment.

Scarring cannot usually be safely removed. This means that, even if the underlying cause is successfully treated, vision remains obstructed or distorted. The presence of scarring can also prohibit qualification for clinical trials of future treatments like stem cell transplantation and genetic replacement.

The best approach to the problem, then, might be to prevent scarring in the first place. This is being studied by RXI Pharmaceuticals, a company in Marlborough, Massachusetts. On August 12, 2015, they announced the start of a Phase 1/2 trial in Ophthalmology to evaluate the safety and clinical activity of RXI-109, a compound that targets connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a key regulator in scar formation. Positive results from this trial were announced in August 2018, with results showing that RXI-109 was safe and well tolerated for all patients included in three dosage groups.

By blocking the retina’s natural response to inflammation, one of the most serious ramifications of the disease could someday be eliminated. RXi’s Chief Development Officer, Gerrit Dispersyn, Dr. Med. Sc., commented: “This study is exciting on several levels…The impressive safety and tolerability of intravitreal injections of RXI-109 and the promising clinical data, support further development of this compound in retinal scarring.”

Information for this article was obtained from:
What Is Retinal Scarring?” by Mary McMahon
RXI Pharma (RXII) Announces Completion of 30-Day RXI-109 IND Review
RXI Press Release