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Lucentis (ranibizumab) could treat diabetic blindness, says new study

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Friday, April 30, 2010, 20:30 This news item was posted in Biotech category and has 0 Comments so far.

Lucentis (ranibizumab) may come as new treatment for vision loss due to diabetes, according to the findings from a new study.

Lucentis (ranibizumab) was originally developed by Genentech (now part of Roche) to treat age-related macular degeneration.

But Lucentis (ranibizumab) can be as effective to improve vision in people with diabetic macular edema (DME),, a common form of diabetic retinopathy.

The study involving 691 patients with diabetic macular edema (DME) found that 50 percent of those who received Lucentis eye injections, plus laser treatment had substantial improvement in vision one year after treatment, compared with 28 percent of patients who received laser treatment alone.

Lucentis is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) at a dose of 0.5 mg monthly by intravitreal injection.

In wet AMD clinical trials, Lucentis administered monthly demonstrated an improvement in vision of three lines or more on the study eye chart in up to 41 percent of patients at two years.  Nearly all patients (90 percent) in those trials treated monthly with Lucentis maintained vision.

Lucentis is designed to bind to and inhibit VEGF-A, a protein that is believed to play a critical role in the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and the hyperpermeability (leakiness) of the vessels.

In retinal vein occlusion, angiogenesis and hyperpermeability can lead to macular edema, the swelling and thickening of the macula, which is the portion of the eye responsible for fine, detailed central vision.

Lucentis is a prescription medication given by injection into the eye.

What is diabetic blindness?

Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. There are two major types of retinopathy: nonproliferative and proliferative.

In nonproliferative retinopathy, the most common form of retinopathy, capillaries in the back of the eye balloon and form pouches. Nonproliferative retinopathy can move through three stages (mild, moderate, and severe), as more and more blood vessels become blocked.

Although retinopathy does not usually cause vision loss at this stage, the capillary walls may lose their ability to control the passage of substances between the blood and the retina. Fluid can leak into the part of the eye where focusing occurs, the macula. When the macula swells with fluid, a condition called macula edema, vision blurs and can be lost entirely. Although nonproliferative retinopathy usually does not require treatment, macular edema must be treated, but fortunately treatment is usually effective at stopping and sometimes reversing vision loss.

In some people, retinopathy progresses after several years to a more serious form called proliferative retinopathy. In this form, the blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, new blood vessels start growing in the retina. These new vessels are weak and can leak blood, blocking vision, which is a condition called vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. After the scar tissue shrinks, it can distort the retina or pull it out of place, a condition called retinal detachment.

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