Feature Stories

Astellas Executive Interview Series – Eddy Anglade

Sep 27, 2017

As a young medical student at Yale University, Eddy Anglade was exposed to a number of exciting therapeutic areas. But it was one clinical discipline – ophthalmology – that stood out above the rest for its importance, as ocular diseases and conditions are among some of the highest unmet needs. An interest in ophthalmology, paired with research in cell therapy, has led him to a 20-plus year career in the pharmaceutical industry. Today, he currently serves as Chief Medical Officer and Global Therapeutic Head of the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AIRM).

We met with Eddy to discuss ophthalmology, one of our emerging therapeutic areas, and the innovative work underway at AIRM labs in the Boston area. Through cell therapy, Eddy and his team are working to address diseases like macular degeneration – a leading cause of permanent vision loss in populations aged 55 years and older.

What drove you to pursue a career in pharma?

Quite simply, to positively impact patient health through the design and implementation of clinical trials and drug development programs.

How did that eventually lead you to cell therapy and ophthalmology? 

While I enjoyed many clinical disciplines as a medical student, ophthalmology is ultimately what I chose to pursue as a clinical specialty. It was appealing to me for several reasons – first, we receive approximately 90% of our information through our eyes, and vision loss or impairment has substantial impact on quality of life. It is a specialty where both doctors and patients understand the impact and satisfaction of a quick, successful therapeutic intervention.

With regard to cell therapy, I have had longstanding interest in immunology and immune-mediated diseases (within ophthalmology, I specialized in ocular inflammatory diseases) and started my career in the pharmaceutical industry as a marketing medical director in the area of solid organ transplantation. The combination of ophthalmology and cell therapy takes advantage of all of these experiences.

We understand there is an unmet need for patients suffering from eye diseases/conditions. Could you please describe a program you are currently excited about, and why?

The Medical & Development team at AIRM, with outstanding partnership and support from our colleagues across Astellas, is currently engaged in a program studying a potential treatment option for macular degeneration, including juvenile and adult forms of the disease, which inevitably lead to loss of vision. We are working collaboratively with a diverse group of investigators to implement a series of clinical trials that will assess the efficacy and safety of human stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelial cells that will be transplanted into the eyes of patients diagnosed with macular degeneration.

If we are successful, we have the potential to help thousands of patients – and that’s impactful and exciting.

What makes AIRM's approach to cell therapy programs different than other peers and organizations?

There are several aspects of AIRM’s approach to cell therapy that are notable. First, although virtually all other research programs are approaching age-related macular degeneration only, AIRM is studying both adult and juvenile forms of the disease. Additionally, we will make use of a number of expert independent committees that will assist us in ensuring appropriate clinical trial participant selection and data interpretation, which we believe is unique to our program.

What will regenerative medicine look like 5 or 10 years from now?

I am optimistic that there will be several cell-based therapeutics in addition to other therapeutic modalities that comprise regenerative medicine. The pace of advances is quickening, and it is likely that further patient-specific, targeted forms of regenerative medicine will be advanced within the span of a decade.

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