Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus

OV-02 for the Treatment of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus

Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus is caused by varicella zoster virus (Shingles) reactivation within the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve. Patients with HZO first experience unilateral pain in the affected eye, forehead, and top of the head, followed by headache, malaise, and fever. These early symptoms precede eye complications such as keratitis, uveitis/iritis, and conjunctivitis. The disease can vary in severity from mild to serious and sight-threatening. Importantly, early diagnosis and treatment of this disease has been shown to be effective in preventing progressive corneal involvement and potential vision loss.

Herpes zoster infection is estimated to affect 3.07% of the United States population each year (Harpaz et al., 2008) (US Census Bureau, 2018).

Current Therapy for Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus

HZO is typically treated with systemic oral antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir, to limit viral replication. As ocular manifestations of the disease, especially keratitis, can be sight-threatening, systemic antiviral therapy is often accompanied by the adjunctive use of topical steroid drops to reduce inflammation and control immune-associated keratitis and iritis, which are ocular responses integral to this disease. Although ophthalmic steroids reduce inflammation in the eye, they do not kill the virus causing the inflammation. There are currently no FDA-approved antiviral ophthalmic formulations for the treatment of Herpes Zoster Opthalmicus.

Advantages of OV-02 in the Treatment of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus With Ocular Involvement

Turn Therapeutics is developing OV-02 as an ophthalmic ointment for direct application in patients experiencing the symptoms of Herpes Zoster Opthalmicus. As OV‑02 is a non-sensitizing, non-irritating ophthalmic formulation with antiviral properties, Turn contends that OV‑02 will provide an adjunctive treatment option for patients with HZO affecting the eye. OV‑02 will likely be used in addition to oral antiviral therapy and is intended to reduce the time to recovery of the ocular manifestations of HZO, and may reduce the need for the use of topical ophthalmic steroids, thereby prospectively decreasing steroid‑associated ocular risks.

Turn Therapeutics intends OV-02 to be entering clinical trials for the treatment of Herpes Zoster Opthalmicus in Q1, 2019.