May 22, 2024

ARVO 2024 Highlight: InGel’s Cell Therapy Shows Promise for Preserving Vision

Eye On the Cure Research News

The emerging treatment is designed to work for people with RP and other conditions regardless of the gene mutation causing disease

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InGel Therapeutic’s emerging, innovative cellular treatment for preserving cone-mediated vision in people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Usher syndrome, and potentially other retinal conditions, was presented by Deepti Singh, PhD, InGel’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, at the Ninth Annual Retinal Gene and Cell Therapy Innovation Summit on May 3, 2024. The summit, hosted by the Foundation and Oregon Health & Science University, preceded the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Seattle, May 5-9.

InGel’s therapy is comprised of purified rod photoreceptor precursors — i.e., rods that haven’t fully matured. The rod precursors are designed to work by secreting exosomes — vesicles containing as many as 550 protective molecules — which naturally penetrate the patients’ existing cone photoreceptors.

InGel’s rod precursors are contained in a biodegradable hydrogel, a vitreous-mimicking material which shields them from damaging stress when they are injected through a syringe needle into the vitreous in the middle of the patient’s eye.

The therapeutic approach was developed in the laboratory of Michael Young, PhD, InGel co-founder, director of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for Retinal Regeneration at Mass Eye and Ear, and co-director of the Ocular Regenerative Medicine Institute at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Young developed the cell therapy used in ReNeuron’s RP clinical trial, which was stopped in Phase 2.

Dr. Young believes that InGel’s approach will be more effective than ReNeuron’s for three reasons: 1) InGel’s cells are purer and deliver more cone-preserving molecules, 2) the protective hydrogel will lead to a larger yield of healthy, therapeutic cells, and 3) intravitreal delivery will enable more cells to be delivered safely than subretinal delivery.

“Though the ReNeuron clinical trial didn’t lead to an approved therapy, we learned a lot from it,” says Dr. Young. “In that sense, the ReNeuron effort helped move the field forward, and we are applying those lessons learned in our development efforts at InGel.”

InGel’s cell therapy is currently being evaluated in large animals. Efficacy of the treatment was observed in mice with RP.