Verseon presents oral drug candidate for diabetic eye disease that could replace eye injections

One in three long-term diabetes patients will develop diabetic macular edema (DME), which can lead to blindness.Present treatments are recurring injections into the eye, which can lead to infection, inflammation and are rejected by many patients.Promising efficacy and pharmacokinetic data presented at ARVO 2019 show that Verseon’s oral drug candidate could become a real alternative to current eye injections.

Fremont, Calif.—Verseon presented promising preclinical efficacy data for the first development candidate for clinical trials in their diabetic eye disease program at this week’s ARVO 2019 annual meeting in Vancouver. This new drug candidate for oral dosing could lead to the first real alternative to eye injections, the current standard of care for millions of diabetics at risk of losing their eye sight.

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a leading cause of adult blindness, affecting about one in three long-term diabetes patients. With the prevalence of diabetes on the rise around the globe, preventing complications like DME is becoming increasingly urgent. However, the current standards of care for DME are regular injections into the eye—treatments that are associated with side effects including inflammation and infection and that work poorly or not at all in about half of patients. Recent studies have also shown that 25% of patients fail to follow up with their eye injections, leaving them at risk of eventual vision loss.
Verseon’s development candidate, which is aimed for oral administration, has the potential to fill a large unmet need for both treatment and prevention of DME. The candidate is the first of Verseon’s new class of small-molecule plasma kallikrein inhibitors for oral dosing that is going forward clinical trials.
At ARVO 2019, Dr. Melissa Calton, Verseon’s Program Manager of Ophthalmology, presented comprehensive preclinical data for this lead development candidate. In preclinical models, the compound showed good efficacy against two important drivers of the disease—the kallikrein and VEGF pathways—following administration of a single oral dose (read the abstract here).
“What’s most exciting about our DME candidates isn’t just that they may replace eye injections, but that they could give doctors an opportunity to prevent diabetes patients from developing DME in the first place,” said Dr. Calton. “Its excellent pharmacokinetic profile sets our development candidate apart from other candidates, making it suitable for administration as a pill. We are very encouraged by our preclinical results and are working to bring this candidate into clinical trials.”

About Verseon’s diabetic macular edema program

Verseon has developed a new class of potent, selective small-molecule plasma kallikrein inhibitors for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME), a major cause of adult blindness. In contrast to current customary DME treatments that are administered as recurring eye injections, Verseon develops drug candidates for oral dosing. Several lead candidates have demonstrated efficacy in reducing retinal thickening and retinal leakage, two hallmarks of the disease, when administered orally. The company is currently preparing a first DME development candidate for phase 1 trials.

Share this article

More services


This article is featured in:
Pharmacology/ Therapeutics


Comment on this article

You must be registered and logged in to leave a comment about this article.