A New Vision

The RNA Hub takes a fresh look at dry eye

Nucleic acid therapeutics offer exciting new approaches to developing new therapies for untreated or undertreated conditions. One such area that the RNA Hub is working on is an ophthalmology opportunity: dry eye. At the moment, the main treatment for dry eye is artificial tears. Developing new therapeutic options with current research approaches has not been very successful to date.

Lena Wyss, an immunologist by training who is a research project leader working on this problem, stepped into a new field of technical aspects when starting working with nucleic acid therapeutics. Thanks to the RNA Hub, she was quickly immersed in this new world, with direct access and collaborations with excellent experts and exposure to a wide variety of ongoing projects. 

“This is very different from what has been done so far in ophthalmology, but there’s a high need to think in different directions,” Lena says.

Looking at nucleic acid therapeutics is an exciting step for both researchers and patients, because very little is known to date about how these kinds of medicines might work in the eye, Lena explains.

Indeed, RNA Hub biophysicist Peter Hagedorn notes that these molecules can behave differently in the eye than elsewhere. “We may deliver these molecules in different ways,” Peter adds. For example, new kinds of molecules could open up the possibility for currently hard-to-treat conditions. Potentially providing new treatment options - and making them easier for patients - highlights the promise of Roche’s research programme in this area.

Indeed, RNA Hub biophysicist Peter Hagedorn notes that for these projects, we can formulate our molecules in eye drops that most patients could easily administer themselves on a daily basis. This provides opportunities for us to construct molecules where we do not have to tackle the same issues that we face in projects focused on other tissues. The big difference lies in the accessibility by topical, non-invasive instillations onto the eye.

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