Retinal disorders are among the most common eye diseases worldwide and a major cause of vision loss in the developed world. Comprising a layer of light-sensitive cells that line the back of the eye, the retina translates light information from the environment to signals that can be processed into sight by the brain. Vision is compromised when the retina weakens due to age, such as in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or when blood vessels break around the retina, such as in diabetic retinopathy. In the United States alone, more than 3 million individuals over the age of 40 are visually impaired as a consequence of age-related eye disorders, with a tripling of this population expected by 2020.
As a result of complex disease etiology, the development of effective treatments for these conditions has been challenging and patients remain medically underserved. In recent years, however, research into the mechanisms for a variety of human retinal disorders has provided insights that have helped enable efforts to identify drug targets that contribute to disease susceptibility. Building on these observations and leveraging emerging human genetic data, NGM has engaged its powerful biologics platform to engineer proprietary antibodies that are designed to halt or slow the progression of vision loss associated with these diseases. This focused approach has allowed us to rapidly conceive potential therapies targeted to the key molecular events responsible for retinal diseases such as AMD and diabetic retinopathy.