(RxWiki News) The primary method for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in older adults, is injections directly into the eye.
While the treatment is successful, researchers have been in search of safer methods.
A pre-clinical trial of experimental eye drop drug aganirsen in primates has found positive results, encouraging researchers to begin clinical trials of the medication this year.
"Talk to an ophthalmologist about AMD treatment options."
The findings could benefit patients with wet AMD, the more severe form characterized by the abnormal growth of blood vessels under the macula, potentially leading to blood and fluid leakage that causes swelling, and ischemic retinopathy, which occurs when new blood vessels uncontrollably form in the retina leading to a loss of central vision.
Matthew Lawrence, MD, PhD, of research firm RxGen, Inc, said that the study found that aganirsen could address the proliferation of new blood vessels by inhibiting the expression of angiogenic protein IRS-1 without affecting the normal growth of blood vessels.
He said that the data supports a role for the easier-to-use drug in treating several eye diseases characterized by abnormal blood vessel growth.
During the pre-clinical trial aganirsen eye drops were applied daily to primates following laser induced Choroidal neovascularization (CNV), or the creation of new blood vessels in the choroid layer of the eye, a common symptom of wet AMD. The monkeys were given one of three doses of the experimental drug.
Researchers found that the drug inhibited the growth of new blood vessels in parts of the eye not expected to have such abnormal growth. At the highest dose, CNV was decreased from 21 percent to 2 percent in the primates.
The size of abnormal blood vessel growth in areas that do not usually contain them also was significantly lower in both primates that received low or high doses of the drug.
"Current treatments for AMD and other neo-vascular retinal diseases revolve around the intra-ocular injection of active medications. Newer alternatives in which drugs are administered either topically or orally, if proven effective, would represent a major advance," noted Dr. Christopher Quinn, an optometrist with Omni Eye Associates.
A phase two clinical trial of the drug is expected to begin within the coming months. The study was recently presented at the 2012 ARVO Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.