#HowEyeSeeIt campaign to bring retinal disease into clear view
- The Foundation Fighting Blindness is pairing people with vision loss with celebrities in a social media initiative to spread the word about retinal degenerative diseases.
- Retinal degenerative diseases, from age-related macular degeneration to Usher syndrome, affect over 10 million Americans. The market is growing rapidly and many large pharmaceutical companies are looking to get into the market.
- This is the first social media initiative that focuses on improving funding and increasing awareness for retinal degenerative diseases, according to the foundation. Patient advocacy groups have had great success in recent years raising funds for lesser-known and rare diseases.
Sight loss is a devastating thing, and impacts daily life and ability to study and work for the individuals affected. It also has a huge effect on family and friends as well. To try to spread awareness about vision loss as a result of retinal degenerative disease, the U.S.-based Foundation Fighting Blindness has created a social media campaign with the tag #HowEyeSeeIt.
The campaign will pair up people with retinal degenerative disease with celebrities, including Glee's Harry Shum Jr., Diane Guerrero of Orange is the New Black and Justin Baldoni of Jane the Virgin, and will demonstrate how visual loss affects people in everyday life. People are encouraged to post blindfolded videos, raise money and spread the word, and the pledge is ‘a cure is in sight – join the movement’.
The retinal diseases market is estimated to be worth $10.67 billion in 2015 according to a visiongain report, and some big pharma companies are eyeing up the area. These include Ophthotech’s anti-PDGF agent Fovista (pegpleranib), which is in Phase 3 trials and has been licensed to Novartis outside the US.
Roche and Eleven Bio entered a worldwide licensing deal in 2016 to look at IL-6 inhibition in retinal disease. And gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics, which has an agreement with Pfizer for one of its non-ocular programs, has seen positive results in Phase 3 for its gene therapy candidate voretigene neparvovec in inherited retinal disease.
While it might all seem a bit of fun, social media campaigns do have an impact – $1.5 million from the ALS Foundatioons Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral in 2014, is going to fund Cytokinetics' Phase 3 VITALITY-ALS study, which is looking at the drug tirasemtiv. The Challenge managed to raise more than $220 million after it went viral on social media.
Vision loss is a huge problem and a huge potential market, particularly as the global population ages. According to a study in The Lancet, by 2020, there could be 196 million people worldwide with age-related macular degeneration alone, rising to 288 million in 2040.
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