Eye health is a growing, multi-billion-dollar market. Which stocks are worth a look?
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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Analysts and CEOs of companies targeting vision loss say there’s market opportunities above US$10 billion ($14.89 billion) for the taking.
We aren’t talking about the entire vision loss market here. That’s $US10 billion worth of treatments for each specific disease, such as wet-AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) and Myopia (nearsightedness).
So which ASX-list companies are set to benefit?
Opthea (ASX:OPT) would instantly spring to the minds of investors, and rightly so — it is up 420 per cent in the last 3 months.
The company has never looked back since its anti-wet AMD drug passed Phase II trials with flying colours in early August.
Just look at this chart:
Its natural for investors to be disappointed at missing out on spectacular rises such as Opthea’s, even though — the day after the results — CEO Megan Baldwin declared it was only the start.
Wet AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50 years, caused by fluid leaking from blood vessels into the macula.
OPT-302 worked because it targeted multiple Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors (VEGFs) rather than just one as conventional wet-AMD treatments do. VEGFs are signal proteins that stimulate the formation of blood vessels.
Opthea has not finished at the clinic yet, in a separate trial it testing the drug against Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). This is also where fluid congests in the macular but this is a complication of diabetes.
Goldman Sachs predicted the DME market will grow faster than wet-AMD and Opthea is undertaking a Phase II clinical trial for that too.
Although the results not due until early 2020, an earlier Phase 1b trial showed positive data – albeit from only 9 patients. This current trial has over 100 patients.
But now that Opthea’s drug has passed its biggest test against the leading cause of blindness, commercialisation is firmly on the mind of the company and analysts.
When Goldman initiated coverage on Opthea it estimated the wet-AMD market at US$10 billion. It saw the most likely path to commercialisation as a global licensing agreement with a big opthamology firm.
$30m market cap Visioneering Technologies (ASX: VTI) is also tackling vision problems – specifically Myopia, or near-sightedness.
Their solution? Contact lenses which address both near-sightedness and long sightedness.
CEO Stephen Snowdy told Stockhead these contact lenses can slow down myopia progression by an average of over 90 per cent.
“That is something no other product has been shown to do,” he said.
“What happens in kids is that when they use glasses or contact lenses it actually causes myopia to worsen.”
“And that is called myopia progression – the problem is it puts a person at high risk of blindness throughout their lifetime – the higher the risk but the earlier you step in the better off that person is going to be.”
“Our lenses slow it down by an average of over 90 per cent and that is something no product has been shown to do.”