The TargetAMD consortium of 14 partners (universities, university hospitals, research institutions, and innovative small-and medium sized companies) is developing a new therapy for AMD, based on a gene therapeutic approach.
Current treatment of AMD is unsatisfying due to frequent intravitreal injections, which forces the patients to be often in the hospital. The TargetAMD treatment aims at only one 60-minutes surgical session for each patient to deliver a life-long solution that results in a comfortable and cost efficient curative treatment.
We will preserve patient’s vision, what affects the psychological health and functional status of the individual in a positive way. The patients restore their ability to carry out most of their usual everyday activities and are getting mobile, which will improve their quality of life (Fig.1).
It is the first-in-human clinical study in Europe using non-viral transposons as gene delivery vectors proving the safety of the new approach, its feasibility and effectiveness. We have already developed Standard Operation Procedures for TargetAMD and conducted in vivo studies to prove the concept. The SME partners of the consortium developed new medical products and devices, e.g. an electroporation buffer, plasmids free of antibiotic resistance markers and of GMP-grade, and a microcuvette, to be used for the electroporation and transfection of the autologous cell transplant.
Currently, the approach is presented to the ethics committee and Swissmedic, the agency for the authorisation and supervision of therapeutic products (medicinal products and medical devices), to get the approval for the clinical trial in humans.
The first TargetAMD surgery, performed by Prof. Gabriele Thumann, coordinator of the TargetAMD project and head of the ophthalmology clinic at the University Hospitals of Geneva, is planned for 2018.