US-based Allegro Opthlamics has entered into a license agreement with Senju Pharmaceutical Company to develop its Integrin Peptide Therapy for the treatment of potentially blinding vascular eye diseases in Japan.

Senju will acquire the rights to co-develop the therapy as an intravitreal injection for diseases such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME) for an undisclosed amount.

The firms aim to develop the medication as the first-in-class treatment targeting integrin – a cell adhesion receptor – with an oligopeptide – a peptide of a small number of component amino acids.

In animal models and early-stage trials in humans, investigators found that the synthetic anti-integrin oligopeptide, ALG-1001, inhibits the reproduction of endothelial cells, thereby reducing the proliferation of abnormal blood vessels in the retina.

Allegro COO Marc Kirshbaum commented on the news; "Allegro is very pleased to have formed this strategic partnership with one of the leading ophthalmic pharmaceutical companies in Japan."

"In addition to validating the potential of Integrin Peptide Therapy as an additional treatment option for millions of patients at risk of blindness, this partnership provides Allegro with the capital required to significantly progress its clinical program across multiple indications and phases in the United States," added Kirshbaum.

Allegro recently completed the enrollment of a Phase Ib/IIa study in wet AMD patients as a stand-alone therapy, and commencement of a Phase Ib/IIa in combination with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy.

Image: A scan of an eye affected by diabetic macular edema (DME). Image courtesy of the National Eye Institute.