Synonym(s) Neurotrophic keratopathy
Status In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 of 16 December 1999, the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) adopted a positive opinion on 13 November 2014 recommending the granting of this designation.
What is neurotrophic keratitis?
Neurotrophic keratitis is a condition of the cornea (the clear layer at the front of the eye) caused by damage to the trigeminal nerve, the nerve that allows the surface of the eye to feel things and which supplies growth factors and other substances needed for normal growth and repair of the eye’s surface. This results in a lack of sensitivity in the cornea, and to dryness, ulceration and scarring that interferes with vision. Neurotrophic keratitis is a long-lasting and debilitating condition due to damage to the cornea and possible loss of sight.
What is the estimated number of patients affected by the condition?
At the time of designation, neurotrophic keratitis affected less than 5 in 10,000 people in the European Union (EU). This was equivalent to a total of fewer than 255,000 people, and is below the ceiling for orphan designation, which is 5 people in 10,000.
What treatments are available?
No satisfactory methods were authorised for the treatment of neurotrophic keratitis in the EU at the time of designation. Management depended on the stage of the disease and included supportive measures such as eye drops to moisten the eye and antibiotics to prevent infections, or the use of protective contact lenses, as well as surgery where appropriate.
How is this medicine expected to work?
Patients with neurotrophic keratitis have lower than normal levels of growth factors that are normally supplied by the trigeminal nerve and which play an important role in the growth and survival of the cells of the cornea. The medicine is a compound that can mimic the action of a growth factor called nerve growth factor. When given as eye drops to patients with neurotrophic keratitis, the medicine is expected to help restore some of the normal growth processes in the eye and reduce the damage to the cornea associated with the condition.
What is the stage of development of this medicine?
The effects of the medicine have been evaluated in experimental models. At the time of submission of the application for orphan designation, no clinical trials with the medicine in patients with neurotrophic keratitis had been started. At the time of submission, this medicine was not authorised anywhere in the EU for neurotrophic keratitis or designated as an orphan medicinal product elsewhere for this condition.