The current standard of care for glaucoma involves reducing intraocular pressure, whether through medication use or surgery, or some combination of the two. But with 15% of patients refractory to medication and another 35% who present with normal-tension glaucoma, current treatments are insufficient. Glaucoma is linked to neuropathies of the optic nerve; there is “more to glaucoma than just the eye,” EBS Technologies CEO Karl Schweitzer said.
EBS (electrical brain stimulation) is pursuing a treatment strategy that involves optic nerve crush to stimulate damaged areas of the optic nerve itself to reverse the vision issues inherent in more advanced glaucoma.
Increasing neurotrophic factors and perfusion results in a triple effect of structural neurorestoration, functional restoration, and neuroprotection. That should preserve vision in patients with glaucoma, Schweitzer stated.
Optic nerve stimulation (ONS) after nerve crush can help return vision and prevent disease progression in glaucoma; electrical stimulation can trigger the perception of light in blind patients.
EBS’ system is a noninvasive stimulation device. Goggles are worn by the patient for 10 consecutive days, for an hour a day. EBS has run three randomized clinical trials (with 82, 22, and 42 patients each), the largest of which allowed the company to be granted a CE mark. At three months, ONS halted disease progression and restored visual function.
At one year (13 patients, 21 eyes), 16 eyes showed no further disease progression. Some eyes also benefitted from a significant drop in intraocular pressure.
To date, the company has treated 300 patients in Germany (post-CE mark), and is planning to enter the US market via the De Novo pathway and a clinical trial to start in 2018.