Nicox gains rights to AMD test

January 16, 2014

Nicox announced today that it is expanding its diagnostic portfolio with RetnaGene, a test to predict a patient’s risk of progressing to late-stage or wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The company plans to promote the test in the U.S. during the first half of 2014.

Sophia Antipolis, France, and San Diego-Nicox announced today that it is expanding its diagnostic portfolio with RetnaGene, a test to predict a patient’s risk of progressing to late-stage or wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The company plans to promote the test in the U.S. during the first half of 2014.

Sequenom Laboratories has granted Nicox exclusive rights to promote RetnaGene to eyecare practitioners in North America and co-exclusive rights to retina physicians.

RetnaGene is a laboratory-developed test designed to evaluate the risk of early or intermediate AMD progressing to choroidal neovascularization (CNV), or wet AMD within 2, 5, and 10 years. The noninvasive test uses DNA collected from a cheek swab.

According to Nicox, the patient’s risk of progression is based on four risk factors: genotype, phenotype (severity of the existing symptoms), age, and environment (smoking status). Disease risk is largely caused by variations in recently discovered genes. RetnaGene looks for the major single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that have the most significant effect on the risk of developing advanced AMD.

Genetic testing will play a big role in how eyecare practitioners treat AMD in the future. “The way we do things now is not sustainable-we keep doing injections, injections, injections,” says Steven Ferrucci, OD, chief of optometry at the Sepulveda VA, as well as a professor at the Southern California College of Optometry. “This test is going to help us figure out which patients are at a higher risk-which we should see more frequently and treat more aggressively. From an optometry standpoint, it’s going to help us decide for which ones we would recommend vitamin therapy earlier and have conversations about their lifestyle habits, such as smoking and UV, and which ones we don’t have to worry about as much. As the population ages, it’s more important that we are able to stratify our risks in these patients. It’s going to be huge in retina management and treatment moving forward.”