Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss among the elderly population. Genetic studies in susceptible individuals have linked this ocular disease to deregulated complement activity that culminates in increased C3 turnover, retinal inflammation and photoreceptor loss. Therapeutic targeting of C3 has therefore emerged as a promising strategy for broadly intercepting the detrimental proinflammatory consequences of complement activation in the retinal tissue. In this regard, a PEGylated second-generation derivative of the compstatin family of C3-targeted inhibitors is currently in late-stage clinical development as a treatment option for geographic atrophy, an advanced form of AMD which lacks approved therapy. While efficacy has been strongly suggested in phase 2 clinical trials, crucial aspects still remain to be defined with regard to the ocular bioavailability, tissue distribution and residence, and dosing frequency of such inhibitors in AMD patients. Here we report the intraocular distribution and pharmacokinetic profile of the fourth-generation compstatin analog, Cp40-KKK in cynomolgus monkeys following a single intravitreal injection. Using a sensitive surface plasmon resonance (SPR)-based competition assay and ELISA, we have quantified both the amount of inhibitor and the concentration of C3 retained in the vitreous of Cp40-KKK-injected animals. Cp40-KKK displays prolonged intraocular residence, being detected at C3-saturating levels for over 3 months after a single intravitreal injection. Moreover, we have probed the distribution of Cp40-KKK within the ocular tissue by means of immunohistochemistry and highly specific anti-Cp40-KKK antibodies. Both C3 and Cp40-KKK were detected in the retinal tissue of inhibitor-injected animals, with prominent co-localization in the choroid one-month post intravitreal injection. These results attest to the high retinal tissue penetrance and target-driven distribution of Cp40-KKK. Given its subnanomolar binding affinity and prolonged ocular residence, Cp40-KKK constitutes a promising drug candidate for ocular pathologies underpinned by deregulated C3 activation.
Keywords: Complement C3 inhibitors; Compstatins; Cp40-KKK; Geographic atrophy; Macular degeneration; Nonhuman primates; Ocular pharmacokinetics; Retina.
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