UK-based patient recruitment and trial management business Synexus is turning its attention to ophthalmology as the pharmaceutical industry steps up its involvement in the field.

Following recent investment in clinical research expertise and technology in the category, Synexus says it is poised to take part in a number of global ophthalmology trials. According to chief executive Dr Christophe Berthoux, there is “considerable” potential for growth in this area.

He pointed to significant demand for new ocular drugs, not only addressing currently untreatable conditions but to improve therapy for conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Between 1995 and 2003, for example, no new ocular drugs were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, Berthoux noted. And until recently the category was dominated by just a few companies. “Our recent involvement in this field indicates that this is changing and that more companies will be extending their operations into ophthalmology,” he commented.

Historically, Berthoux observed, clinical trials in ophthalmology have suffered from a shortage of ophthalmologists with expertise in drug development, as well as from the need for investment in expensive screening and diagnostic equipment.

Synexus has a proven track record of investing in state-of-the-art technology for clinical trials and is used to teaming up with leading specialists who work exclusively on the company’s studies, it said.

Globalisation has also strengthened its hand. “Our expansion earlier this year, with a significantly increased presence in the CEE [Central and Eastern European countries], puts Synexus in a very strong position to deliver the right patients for ophthalmology trials,” commented chief operating officer Jane Restorick.

“Changes in global population demographics, in particular the increasingly ageing population, necessitate the speeding up of ocular drug development, and the need for a greater number of more effective treatments for eye disorders,” Restorick added. “The way Synexus operates means that we can respond quickly with investment in equipment and in clinical expertise.”