Looking to develop a myopia treatment, Sydnexis recruiting children for clinical study


(L-R) Ken Widder, Jacki Johnson, Patrick Johnson of Sydnexis


After a career that has included earning a PhD in molecular biology from UC Santa Barbara, co-founding a local biotechnology company, and spending seven years working in the pharmaceutical industry, Patrick Johnson decided to turn his attention to finding a way to treat myopia, the most common eye disease in children.

After teaming up with local entrepreneurs Ken Widder, Jacki Johnson and Greg Ostrow he now serves as the chief business officer of Sydnexis, a privately held clinical stage biopharmaceutical company headquartered in San Diego that has been working to develop a new eye drop that can decrease myopic progression in children.

“Eye care has always been an interest of mine,” said Johnson, who’s PhD research focused on development and degeneration of the eye and later served as vice president and head of eye care corporate development at pharmaceutical giant Allergan. “Ken, Jacki, and I have taken our experiences across many companies within the biotech and pharmaceutical industries and assembled Sydnexis into a virtual company with a massive contracting/consulting base. This lean infrastructure provides us with flexibility and the ability to tackle any issues that may arise along the way.”

Myopia is a common condition that causes nearsightedness, and diagnoses have become increasingly prevalent among young children. Normally, eyes grow spherically, but myopia causes them to grow in a longer, more football-like shape that distorts the path of the light that enters. Historically, myopia has not been viewed as a significant health risk, however, recent research suggests that the disease’s progression can cause significant eye disease such as retinal detachment, retinal atrophy, choroidal neovascularization, glaucoma, cataracts or blindness. It has only been recently that companies like Sydnexis have been trying to find ways to slow the progression of myopia to minimize disease later in life.

Sydnexis, located on Marine View Avenue in Del Mar, announced almost one year ago that it had begun enrolling the first patients into Phase 3 of testing for the eye drop it is developing, known as SYD-101.

There are currently no FDA-approved pharmaceutical treatments for myopia. When Sydnexis announced the initiation of Phase 3 last year, Darren Bell, of the Medical Center Ophthalmology Associates in San Antonio, Texas and one of the clinical sites participating in Sydnexis’ STAAR Study, said millions of children “could greatly benefit from the availability of a well-tolerated, stable FDA-approved drug.”

Phase 3 of the study will be taking place at 47 facilities clinical sites around the world, including six in California. Two clinical sites are in San Diego and are still recruiting myopic patients between the age of 3-14 years old. The study will evaluate two dosage strengths of SYD-101 in approximately 8,700 children. Over a treatment period of three years, those children will receive eyedrops, either SYD-101 or a placebo. Then the children who were using the placebo will be switched to drops of SYD-101, and children who were taking drops SYD-101 will either continue taking SYD-101 or start using the placebo.

Sydnexis is still in the process of recruiting children to participate at study locations throughout the United States, as well as Austria and Slovakia. Criteria that eligible children must meet to participate in this study is available on the study’s webpage at The study’s estimated completion date is July 2024.

More than 40% of Americans are myopic, according to the American Optometric Association, and those numbers have been increasing over the years. More data has helped medical professionals better educate the public about myopia.

Sydnexis is taking a unique approach, “We have not invented the concept of myopia treatment nor are we working with a novel chemical entity, the unique aspect of what we are trying to accomplish is to create the safest and most effective product to treat childhood refractive disease.” Johnson said.

For more information about Sydnexis or participating in the study, visit or email

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