Roche’s Genentech drug division recently purchased rights from Lineage Cell Therapeutics for a cellular transplant treatment aimed at reversing an eye condition causing blindness, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
The science: The drug, called OpRegen, targets and repairs advanced dry macular degeneration with geographic atrophy, a degenerative eye disease. In patients experiencing this condition, cells used for seeing and reading faces disintegrate, initiating failure of large sections of the retina. OpRegen is lab-engineered from retina cells and transplanted to affected regions of the eye.
The process: The drug is in early clinical trials, and while it hasn’t yet received approval for general use, officials are working to bring it to market quickly and efficiently.
The market: Dry macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the world, and Genentech is working to meet a significant global unmet need. The eye and sensory organ drugs market had a $24 billion run in global sales in 2019, according to market-research firm Evaluate Pharma, suggesting plenty of room for Roche to do well while doing good.