Uveitis is an inflammatory and chronic disease of the eye affecting the uvea, the middle, pigmented layer of the eye. The uvea comprises three parts: the iris (responsible for color), the ciliary body (positioned behind the iris and responsible for lubrication of the eye) and the choroid (vascular lining tissue below the retina). Apart from corticosteroids and immunosuppressives no treatment is currently available. Both classes of drugs are known to cause serious side effects when used for a prolonged time period, needed to treat chronic uveitis. Such side effects include osteoporosis, extreme weight gain, diabetes etc. Autoimmune uveitis is associated with immunological response by T helper cells (Th1 and Th17) to human retinal or cross-reactive proteins. These autoreactive T helper cells migrate and infiltrate the eye and are the main cause of the inflammation of the eye. It has been shown in animal models and in humans that neutralizing these deregulated T cells (hallmark cytokines: IFN-γ for Th1 and IL-17 for Th17) lead to an amelioration of clinical uveitis.
Key facts about Uveitis
- Uveitis is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world and the fourth leading cause in the western world
- Several million patients suffer from any form of uveitis
- Posterior non-infectious uveitis is a registered orphan indication
- Uveitis can occur in any age group
- Current treatment involves corticosteroids (Prednisolon or Dexamethason) and severe immunosuppressive drugs (Cyclosporine)
- Because of the low safety of the existing therapeutics there is a high unmet medical need for a new and safer class of drugs to treat uveitis