IMO Grupo Miranza is one of the centres that has been selected for an important international clinical study, called HORIZON, which is evaluating the effectiveness and safety of a gene therapy that is being developed for patients with dry AMD.
As part of the study, IMO’s operating theatres in Barcelona have hosted the first surgery in Spain to apply this therapy, which could represent a breakthrough in approaching the dry or atrophic form of age-related macular degeneration, which currently has no approved treatment.
The aim of the gene therapy being researched is to slow down the loss of vision caused by AMD, a disease that is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 in industrialised countries, with dry AMD being the most common form (85% of cases). “Dry AMD is characterised by atrophy of the pigment epithelium, the outermost part of the retina, as well as degeneration of the photoreceptors in its central part (the macula)”, explains Dr Rafael Navarro, Miranza’s R&D&I manager and principal investigator of the study.
Gene therapy for dry AMD: its application
The groundbreaking procedure performed by IMO Grupo Miranza surgeons consisted of providing the gene therapy under investigation, which was developed by Gyroscope Therapeutics Limited. As Dr Navarro explains, “gene therapy acts as a vector that deposits therapeutic genes under the macula, with the aim of increasing the production of a protein, which is believed to be key in the evolution of the atrophy causing dry AMD.”
This was performed during a vitrectomy, a technique in which our group’s specialists excel and which is used to treat many retinal diseases, while accessing the intraocular structures through refined microsurgery.
In addition to performing the surgery, IMO Grupo Miranza was responsible for the pharmacological preparation of the Gyroscope company’s therapy used in the study. This was done from its molecular biology lab, where a team of researchers is working on this and other gene and cell therapy research projects.
Next steps in gene therapy research for dry AMD
Once the therapy under investigation has been applied to the first patient in Spain, others will be recruited for the clinical trial. All of them will have to undergo regular eye check-ups over a period of several years to monitor the evolution of the disease, compared to the progression of untreated patients with dry AMD.
According to Dr Navarro, “this is a very promising therapy for patients with dry AMD, which could also lay the groundwork for other more specific and personalised treatments for the disease.”
This is a field with which IMO Grupo Miranza specialists are highly involved. Our centre has been included in the HORIZON multicentre study, through the IMO Foundation, due to its great research and surgical renown, as well as the fact that it has a laboratory with a Cell Culture and Experimentation in New Therapies Department within its facilities, whose researchers boast several relevant findings.