Founded by a veteran industry team, Arctic Vision recently celebrated its first anniversary and touts itself as the first innovative ophthalmology-focused biotech in China, with the mission of bringing innovative therapies from abroad to patients in China.
According to CEO and cofounder Dr Eddy WU, a company like Arctic Vision is overdue. In 2019, ophthalmology was the fastest-growing segment among all disease areas in China. For instance, macular degeneration affects 34 million people across the country, while around 28 million have moderate to severe forms of dry eye.
It is common knowledge that the Arctic is a very harsh environment but probably most people do not consider the impact on sight. For humans, I think there is a tendency to overlook the difficulties and struggles of people living with sight issues as well
Having trained as a molecular pharmacologist, Dr Wu spent five years at Novartis, leading multiple clinical development programs across various therapeutic areas and subsequently also heading up Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) for the Asian, Middle Eastern and African markets. He then moved to Allergan and Terns China, a NASH-focused biotech, before starting Arctic Vision in May 2019. Joining him on the journey are his compatriots, Dr Qing LIU (VP of Clinical & Regulatory Affairs) and Dr York Chen (VP of Operations & Commercial Planning), who both also have extensive ophthalmology industry experience, with stints at Allergan and Alcon.
The company’s evocative name, ‘Arctic Vision’, is intended to reflect the company’s ambitions to improve the lives of patients with ophthalmological conditions. As Dr Wu shared, “globally, the animals that face the most challenges with sight are the animals that live in the Arctic. Arctic animals like reindeer, polar bears, Arctic fox and so on must survive and thrive in an environment that is in continuous darkness half the year and in perpetual daylight the other half of the year.” As a result, these animals have developed evolutionary advantages to help them see better.
Dr Wu enthused, “Arctic reindeer ‘change’ their eye color from gold in the summer to blue in the winter. The blue helps to increase the sensitivity of the eye to the limited winter light.” He pointed out poignantly, “it is common knowledge that the Arctic is a very harsh environment but probably most people do not consider the impact on sight. For humans, I think there is a tendency to overlook the difficulties and struggles of people living with sight issues as well.” For this reason, the company is dedicated to addressing the entire pan-ocular space.
Arctic Vision has already closed a deal with US biopharma Clearside Biomedical for XIPERE™, or ARVN001, which has a novel drug delivery approach. Dr Wu introduced, “This patented technology is designed to enable the rapid and adequate dispersion of medicine to the back of the eye, offering the potential for the medicine to act longer and minimize harm to the surrounding healthy parts of the eye.” They are currently preparing for clinical trials. The first indication for this product in China will be macular edema associated with uveitis, and the company is also exploring a second indication of diabetic macular edema (DME).
Not content to rest on the laurels of their first commercial partnership, Arctic Vision is in talks with a number of other companies, and Dr Wu has hinted that by the end of 2020, if not earlier, they could have a portfolio of between three to six relatively late-stage, validated assets – certainly a feat for such a young firm.
Read the full interview with Arctic Vision’s Dr Eddy Wu here
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