NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – RXi Pharmaceuticals last week announced positive preclinical data from a program exploring the use of its anti-scarring drug candidate RXI-109 in ophthalmic conditions, showing that intravitreal injection of the agent cut levels of its target protein in the eyes of non-human primates.
RXI-109 comprises siRNAs designed to inhibit connective tissue growth factor, or CTGF, a protein linked to wound healing and other fibrotic processes. It employs the company's proprietary self-delivering technology, which enables cellular uptake without the need for a delivery vehicle.
Although the drug is already in the clinic as treatment for dermal scarring — RXi last year kicked off a Phase II trial in patients with hypertrophic scars and recently began another in patients undergoing keloid removal — it is also under evaluation for use in preventing retinal and corneal scarring.
To that end, RXi conducted a dose range-finding study in cynomolgus monkeys. After the animals received intravitreal injections of RXI-109, whole eye sections were collected and analyzed, showing dose-dependent reductions of CTGF in both the retinas and corneas.
"This finding opens up an avenue to possibly develop topical forms of RXI-109 to combat corneal scarring which often occurs secondary to trauma or infection and can lead to visual impairment, including blindness," RXi President and CEO Geert Cauwenbergh said in a statement.