Strategic collaborations, both inside and out of AbbVie’s walls, are critical to drive new areas of science, according to Mike Robinson, M.D., AbbVie’s vice president, clinical development, ophthalmology.
With a background in academia and many years as a practicing ophthalmologist, Robinson has seen firsthand the great need to elevate the standard of care and continuously improve existing options. While many products exist to treat dry eye, a common condition, there’s still an opportunity to target the inflammation that’s the likely culprit, Robinson says. Another focus is advancing research in sustained-released medications and investigating ways to improve vision outcomes over time.
Perhaps most exciting is the emerging area of gene therapy for approaching retinal diseases such as wet AMD, which currently involves frequent injections into patients’ eyes. Gene therapy involves introducing a new gene into retinal cells that produces a protein to reduce or potentially eliminate the need for injections while also helping address the disease.
“These approaches are all potential game changers for patients,” Robinson says. “While there’s no playbook for being a pioneer, we must continue targeting unmet needs and going deep on these diseases.”
With glaucoma as the second-leading cause of blindness globally, there continues to be much opportunity and hope for the next breakthrough, Keegan says.
“I understand there are a lot of failures in science,” she says. “What should keep (scientists) motivated is what keeps me motivated, the fact that you do come upon (ways for people to) have improved quality of life and feel more in control.”