Having now proven its drug works on two eye diseases, Opthea (ASX:OPT) is looking to future treatment options.

The immediate consideration for Opthea is a phase three study on Diabetic Macular Edema (DME), similar to its planned phase three study in wet-AMD.

The company will spend the next few months planning the DME study but the wet-AMD trial is still the main focus.

“We’ve been waiting for the outcomes of this clinical trial. We will now go away, we will look at the results in more detail but we’ll also then start thinking about how we will take this molecule forward in later stage clinical development,” CEO Megan Baldwin said.

“But it’s fair to say we’re well-advanced in wet-AMD and that remains the focus of the company.”


Opening doors

Goldman Sachs analyst Chris Cooper said in his most recent report on Opthea in March that a solid result against DME could open the doors to more diseases.

“A positive outcome in the DME study could demonstrate that OPT[-302] may have broad applications across the whole VEGF-A class, potentially enhancing clinical and commercial interest in the molecule,” he said.

Stockhead asked Dr Baldwin on the conference call if other doors may open for the company in that regard.

“Absolutely, and I think if you look at the approval path the VEGF-A inhibitors took, that’s a nice kind of pathway to consider given that we also target members of the VEGF family,” she said.

“They originally got approval and showed activity in wet-AMD, then subsequent to that went on to show activity in DME and then sought approval in Retinal Vein Occlusion for the treatment of macular edema associated with retinal vein occlusion.”

Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO) is another eye disease that causes vision loss. It occurs when the retina veins become blocked preventing blood with the necessary oxygen and nutrients from reaching the retina.

“RVO represents a third opportunity for us and following that I guess one might also consider looking at diabetic retinopathy of which DME is a further complication of diabetic retinopathy,” Dr Baldwin said.

“Diabetic retinopathy itself, however, is a massive market opportunity and it would be very interesting for us to look at the activity of OPT-302 also in that patient group.

“So, there’s definitely product expansion opportunities for this molecule. We are focused on wet-AMD predominantly and now moving to diversify into DME but other opportunities are on the table.”


Path to commercialisation

Although the clinical trials will take two-and-a-half to three years, analysts pressed Dr Baldwin about commercialisation options. She said when that time arrived, the company was open to multiple options.

“In terms of the interest in our program, obviously this is an approach molecule that is interesting with respect to adding on to anti-VEGF A therapies,” she said.

“There is a lot of interest into how this may be moved forward either independently or in partnership with one of the companies that are in this space, and we remain open to a lot of different options in that regard.”