Eyevensys Electrotransfection System for Ocular Disease: Interview with Patricia Zilliox, CEO
Eyevensys, a medtech company based in France, has developed the Eyevensys Electrotransfection System, a non-viral transfection system for the treatment of ocular diseases. So far, the firm has demonstrated the safety of the technique in treating noninfectious uveitis and is developing treatments for geographic atrophy, retinitis pigmentosa, and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The technology delivers DNA plasmids to the ciliary muscle in the eye, leading to long-term production of proteins in the back of the eye for therapeutic benefit. The electricity is delivered in short pulses and helps to drive the genetic material into the ciliary muscle tissue. The company recently announced that it has secured $12 million to support the ongoing development of its suite of non-viral gene therapies.
See a video about the technique below.
Medgadget spoke with Patricia Zilliox, CEO of Eyevensys, back in November 2019. In this interview, we caught up with Patricia and asked how things have been progressing with the technology.
Conn Hastings, Medgadget: Thanks for talking with us again. Just to recap for our readers, can you give us an overview of the Eyevensys technology and how it works?
Patricia Zilliox, Eyevensys: The Eyevensys technology is a non-viral gene therapy ocular drug delivery platform that uses an Electrotransfection System to deliver DNA plasmids encoding therapeutic proteins into the ciliary muscle to sustainably treat major eye diseases. This turns the eye into a biofactory, allowing the ciliary muscle to express and secrete the therapeutic protein to the back of the eye at therapeutic levels for a duration of greater than six months.
Medgadget: How does the technology outperform existing therapeutic options for ocular diseases?
Patricia Zilliox: The Eyevensys technology is a non-viral gene therapy, therefore, it does not carry the detrimental risk of immune reactions to viral vectors that has been recently observed with viral vector gene therapies. Because the gene sequence for the therapeutic proteins is encoded in plasmid DNA, unlike for viral vectors, there is no size limitation for the genes that can be delivered to the ciliary muscle. Using our technology, it’s possible to induce the sustained intraocular expression of any size or multiple of therapeutic proteins directly in the vitreous or in the choroid, to treat different types of ocular diseases such as dry and wet forms of AMD, Glaucoma and Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Medgadget: We last talked in November 2019. What has changed since then? Have you tried the technology in many patients?
Patricia Zilliox: Since November 2019, we have demonstrated safety and feasibility of the platform in 18 patients with noninfectious uveitis. We have been able to demonstrate that administration of plasmids to the ciliary muscle using our minimally invasive Electrotransfection System is as safe as administering therapeutic proteins to the eye by intravitreal injection. We’ve also collected information allowing us to develop the next generation of the Electrotransfection System.
Medgadget: What diseases are you currently targeting with this technology? At what stage of development are these treatments?
Patricia Zilliox: We are developing EYS611, which will induce the intraocular expression of transferrin, an endogenous antioxidant and neuroprotective protein, for the treatment of patients with Geographic Atrophy and Retinitis Pigmentosa. We are planning to launch the first clinical trial for EYS611 in Q1 2022.
In parallel we are also developing EYS809, a novel dual gene plasmid for the treatment of Wet AMD that will result in the sustained intraocular expression of two proteins, an anti-VEGF, aflibercept, and an antifibrotic/anti-angiogenic protein, Decorin. EYS809 is currently being evaluated in primates. In addition to reducing the burden of repeated intravitreal injections, EYS809 is also expected to offer patients with Wet AMD improved treatment outcomes over anti-VEGF therapy alone.
Medgadget: Do you have any plans to develop treatments for other diseases?
Patricia Zilliox: We have several other proteins in pre-clinical evaluations targeting other ocular diseases
Medgadget: Congratulations on recently attracting $12M in funding. How do you intend to spend the money?
Patricia Zilliox: This most recent round of funding will be used to demonstrate our ability to express proteins for at least six months in the NHP Wet AMD model.
This funding will also be used to support manufacturing of future generations of our ocular device and pulse generator.
Link: Eyevensys homepage…
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