Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of inherited retinal diseases that affects about 100,000 Americans and 1.5 million people worldwide. It is part of a group of rare genetic disorders that cause slow but progressive degeneration of photoreceptor cells in the retina. RP symptoms typically begin in childhood with decreased night vision, followed by loss of peripheral vision, and can eventually lead to complete loss of vision. It causes the progressive deterioration of specialized, light-absorbing cells in the retina, the paper-thin tissue that lines the back of the eye like film in a camera.
Currently, there is no known effective treatment for retinitis pigmentosa (RP). However, since 1992, doctors in Cuba have offered a treatment for RP at an initial cost of just over $10 000 CDN. The Cuban treatment comprises eye surgery, ozone therapy, electric stimulation, and drugs. However, no independent, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted to date that demonstrate the Cuban treatment improves or stabilizes retinal function. Later, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society does not recommend the Cuban treatment for patients with RP due to the absence of objective, peer-reviewed evidence to support its efficacy, safety, and the fact that in some cases the treatment appears to have worsened patients’ RP symptoms.
According to researchers, the estimated population to be treated is 30,000 – 50,000, suffering by retinitis pigmentosa. Whereas, the projected price per dose could be $100,000. It is expected that, the annual yield by the treatment is $3-5 billion.
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Since there are no proper treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, most people afflicted with the genetic disorder progress to the advanced stage of retinitis pigmentosa because of the dearth of proper cure. However, it has opened up a window of opportunity for new therapies and treatments. Companies are now focusing towards retinal prosthesis devices for restoring the lost vision. Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., for example, offers FDA approved Argus II retinal prosthesis system meant for patients with advanced retinitis pigmentosa. This device does the function of degenerated retinal cells and enhances the patient’s ability to see images and movement.
Also, a new approach known as optogenetics, which involves applying gene therapy for restoring vision, is currently being researched upon by companies operating in the ophthalmology market. It helps to power cells, especially ganglion cells, to respond to light after the degeneration of rod cells and cone cells. Further, the orphan drug designation given by the FDA and European Commission to ReN003 by ReNeuron in the U.S. and Europe in 2013 is another positive development in the market. ReN003 is a retinal stem cell therapy candidate.
The global market for retinitis pigmentosa treatment & management market can be segmented on basis of treatment and geography:
- Segmentation by Treatment
- Vitamin A
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Calcium channel blockers
- Gene therapy
- Retinal eye prosthetics
On the other hand, there are presence of some traditional/theoretical uses with minimum evidence, such as, bilberry, magnet therapy, ozone therapy and vitamin E.
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On the basis of regional presence, global retinitis pigmentosa treatment & management market can be segmented into five key regions viz. North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. North America and Europe collectively expected to dominate the global retinitis pigmentosa treatment & management market due to upcoming approvals, more number of research and awareness. However, APAC to grow lately in this market due to large patient pool hence large demand.
There are some companies which are in to development and commercialization of products in this field, such as
- ReNeuron Group plc
- Amarantus BioScience Holdings
- ReGenX Biosciences
- Sucampo Pharmaceuticals
- Orphagen Pharmaceuticals and Okuvision GmbH
- Second Sight Medical Products