More than 40 antibodies are currently approved as therapeutic drugs for the treatment of various diseases. The basic action of an antibody is to bind to a target protein involved in a disease and modulate its function. Recently, nucleic acid aptamers have attracted attention for their ability to bind to specific proteins in a manner similar to antibodies. Since these aptamers are synthesized chemically, the costs of manufacturing and quality control are much less than the costs associated with antibody production.
We are collaborating with Dr. Masayasu Kuwahara from Gunma University, who is an authority on nucleic acid aptamer production in Japan. Dr. Kuwahara has developed an original method for selecting optimal nucleic acid aptamers for binding to target proteins. By utilizing Dr. Kuwahara’s innovative nucleic
acid aptamer platform, we aim to identify new aptamers for the treatment of ocular diseases. As mentioned in “Target Diseases,” one of our main target fields is ophthalmology. Currently, intravitreal injection forms of ophthalmic drugs are used worldwide to treat retinal disorders. Nucleic acid aptamers are very suitable for intravitreal injection; injected aptamers are not degraded as rapidly as they would be during systemic administration. In addition, using intravitreal injections would decrease the likelihood of the body developing antibodies against the aptamers.