• Technology has potential to reimagine treatment for amblyopia (“lazy eye”), a leading cause of vision loss in children and young adults1

  • Acquisition expands the Novartis refractive disorder pipeline in ophthalmology

  • Novartis will work with Ubisoft and McGill University to accelerate product development to enable faster uptake for patients—PoC studies planned later in 2020 

Basel, April 20, 2020 — Novartis announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Amblyotech, a US-based software startup, and will, in collaboration with Ubisoft and McGill University, pursue the development of the acquired digital technology for the treatment of amblyopia.

It is estimated that amblyopia affects roughly 3% of the global population, some of whom could be appropriate candidates for this therapy if approved1. The condition can lead to poor vision and other quality of life issues if left untreated2. The condition can impact children and adults beyond their vision, making it difficult to drive and maintain a sense of autonomy. Current treatment options, including patching and/or atropine, are associated with low compliance and low success rates3. Approved therapies for adults are limited.

Designed to enhance compliance, Amblyotech utilizes active gaming and passive video technology with 3-D glasses, training the eyes to work together to view an image in full. Its software employs a unique visual presentation, called dichoptic display, where each eye is presented with different images using a proprietary algorithm. In early clinical studies, Amblyotech’s software demonstrated improvements in vision in both children and adults with faster onset compared to standard of care treatments4.

“By offering a noninvasive solution that has the potential to be significantly faster than current standards of care such as patching for children and adults impacted by lazy eye, Amblyotech’s software is a great example of how we can reimagine medicine using digital technology,” said Nikos Tripodis, Global Business Franchise Head, Ophthalmology. “We look forward to using our deep clinical development expertise in ophthalmology to accelerate this platform toward regulatory approval, and our global commercial footprint to maximize access for patients who need it.”

With the transaction closing, Novartis plans to work in partnership with video game developer, Ubisoft, to develop the Amblyotech software as a medical device (SaMD), create a series of engaging games for the device, and conduct a proof of concept study (PoC), planned for later in 2020.
  
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About Novartis
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach nearly 800 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 109,000 people of more than 145 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Find out more at https://www.novartis.com.

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References 

  1. Narinesingh C, Wan W, et al. Amblyopia: A Study Using the McGurk Effect. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2014;55:3158-3164.
  2. National Eye Institute. Amblyopia. https://www.nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-pdfs/FactsAbout_AMBLYOPIA_2015.pdf Accessed November 8, 2019. 
  3. Nucci P, Alfarano R, Piantanida A, et al. Compliance in antiamblyopia occlusion therapy. Acta Ophthalmol (Copenh). 1992;70:128-131. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-3768.1992.tb02104.x.
  4. Kelly KR, Jost RM, et al. Binocular iPad Game vs Patching for Treatment of Amblyopia in Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Ophthalmology. 2016;134(12):1402-1408.

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