Discovery ophthalmic research is centered around delineating the molecular and cellular basis of ocular diseases and finding and exploiting molecular and genetic pathways associated with them. From such studies it is possible to determine suitable intervention points to address the disease process and hopefully to discover therapeutics to treat them. An investigational new drug (IND) filing for a new small-molecule drug, peptide, antibody, genetic treatment, or a device with global health authorities requires a number of preclinical studies to provide necessary safety and efficacy data. Specific regulatory elements needed for such IND-enabling studies are beyond the scope of this article. However, to enhance the overall data packages for such entities and permit high-quality foundation-building publications for medical affairs, additional research and development studies are always desirable. This review aims to provide examples of some target localization/verification, ocular drug discovery processes, and mechanistic and portfolio-enhancing exploratory investigations for candidate drugs and devices for the treatment of ocular hypertension and glaucomatous optic neuropathy (neurodegeneration of retinal ganglion cells and their axons). Examples of compound screening assays, use of various technologies and techniques, deployment of animal models, and data obtained from such studies are also presented.
Keywords: IOP; drug discovery; glaucoma; neuroprotection; ocular device; receptor pharmacology.