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Promising perspectives in sight

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The human senses are our connection with the environment. The eyes are considered by far the most important of our sensory organs. Up to 80% of all impressions are perceived through our eyes. The complete loss or the deterioration of eyesight can feel frightening.

For this reason, OkuStim is gaining increasing interest from patients who put their hope in this innovative therapy system. Okuvision is the company behind OkuStim; its ambitious goal is to slow down the progressive loss of vision in hereditary retinal diseases and to maintain people’s quality of life.

Since June 2019, Okuvision has been operating as an independent company; it was previously a subsidiary of Retina Implant AG, a company that concentrated on the development of retinal implants that can restore a certain degree of vision in patients who have become blind from retinitis pigmentosa.

Retina Implant was founded in 2003 with the great vision to develop a treatment for the previously incurable disease retinitis pigmentosa. Thanks to intense research and development, it successfully developed a subretinal implant able to restore partial sight to people who receive little or no light due to various forms of degenerative retinal diseases.

The implant features 1,600 photodiodes and stimulation contacts that partially replace photoreceptors destroyed by the retinal disease. In 2016, the relevant chip Alpha AMS was awarded CE certification and received outstanding international recognition.

Despite its ground-breaking therapy concept, Retina Implant’s story ended this year. “Unfortunately, due to bureaucracy and laborious approval procedures, Retina Implant is currently in the process of liquidation,” explains Okuvison CEO Dr. Alfred Stett. “At the end of the day, the company could not meet the rightfully high expectations. Luckily, we have found an investor and are now in a position to open up an exciting new chapter and to further ensure the supply of the OkuStim therapy system. With ten employees, all of them former members of Retina Implant’s staff, we are thrilled to make a new start. It is our aim to have lean structures to keep flexible and dynamic. As a first step, we are going to promote the system throughout German-speaking Europe; in the next step, we will focus on the rest of Europe before concentrating on China and the Arab region.”

Dr. Alfred Stett, CEO of Okuvision GmbH
OkuStim is designed to promote cell protection in the retina. Dr. Alfred StettCEO

OkuStim is a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa whose efficacy and safety have been proven in clinical studies. The therapy can slow down the progression of the disease and thereby preserve vision for longer by stimulating the retina with weak electrical pulses.

“We work with transcorneal electrical stimulation, TES,” says Dr. Stett. “This form of therapy can be beneficial for patients suffering from hereditary vision loss. One in 4,000 people are affected by retinitis pigmentosa; across Europe, 120,000 people are affected by this disease that often leads to blindness. For this reason, we are keen to relaunch Okuvision and continue marketing OkuStim.”

OkuStim is designed to promote cell protection in photoreceptors and slow down progressive sight loss in retinitis pigmentosa patients by stimulating the eye with TES. A weak electric current is used to stimulate the retina. The device consists of a frame worn around the patient’s head, a hand-held stimulation controller with integrated power supply and disposable electrodes.

Patients need to apply the therapy once a week for 30 minutes. One of its great advantages besides its efficacy is that patients can self-administer OkuStim at home. Some of the costs are covered by health insurance. “OkuStim was CE approved when we were still part of Retina Implant,” points out Dr Stett. “Now, it is important to obtain a new approval. We are going to embark on new clinical studies with the aim of delivering more evidence of the therapy’s benefits so that, in the future, health care payers reimburse the whole expenses related to the therapy.”

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