Growing prevalence of uveitis and related complications among geriatric population have led to increased investments in research and development for drug discovery. Researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have published a study last month that suggests an association between the microbiota in the gut- bacteria, viruses, and fungi- and the development of autoimmune uveitis. In autoimmune uveitis, the patient’s immune system starts attacking proteins in the eyes. Researchers have suggested that the bacteria in the gut might be training the body’s immune cells to attack the eyes.
Understanding what triggers autoimmune uveitis will help in the development of safer long-term therapies and even potential strategies to prevent the disease. Strong product pipeline and development of molecules from the newer class of uveitis treatment are expected to boost the global uveitis treatment market. The global uveitis treatment market is estimated to expand at a CAGR of 7.30% during the period between 2014 and 2020. The overall market was worth US$539.0 mn in 2014 and is expected to reach a valuation of US$822.5 mn by 2020.
Why Corticosteroids and Immunosuppressants are not Effective Treatment Options for Uveitis?
With growing number of patients, especially in the age group of 20 years -50 years, suffering from uveitis, ophthalmologists are looking at other treatment options apart from the conventional ones. As uveitis is usually caused by autoimmune disorders that lead to blurred vision, inflammation, and redness of the eye, the common treatment options include anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, and immunosuppressive medications. Corticosteroids and topical cyclosporine are most commonly used to treat uveitis.
Corticosteroids work by disrupting the normal function of the immune system so that it can no longer release chemicals to cause inflammation in the eye. However, there are a number of short-term and long-term side effects of corticosteroids such as increased appetite, weight gain, mood swings, osteoporosis, thinning of the skim, and increased chances of infection. If a patient is showing significant side effects against steroid treatment, immunosuppressants are prescribed. But immunosuppressants also have potential side effects including high blood pressure, hair loss, loss of appetite, numbness of body parts, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. This has led to the increasing usage of anti-TNF-alpha inhibitor therapy to treat uveitis.
Biologic Therapies: Emerging Treatment for Uveitis
Though intravitreal anti-TNF alpha injections have showed efficacy in uveitis, multiple injections lead to severe inflammations. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, biologic therapies have been recommended for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Biologic therapies are emerging treatments for uveitis as well. Medical practitioners have pointed out that it is difficult to perform clinical trials to measure the efficacy of biologic therapies as the uveitis patient pool is not significantly large. However, biologic therapies are expected to revolutionize the treatment of uveitis.