A new UK study reveals a potential cure for the common eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Scientists are hopeful their new eye drops will help people with AMD avoid developing serious symptoms like blindness.
This latest study out of the University of Birmingham examined the effects of special eye drops on pigs and rabbits that had AMD. According to their data, these eye drops work just as effectively as the more invasive eye injections many AMD patients require.
The main reason these eye drops work so well is because they are made with a special peptide that can transport the drug directly into a person’s retinae. The American company Macregen Incorporated now owns the pending patent for this medication.
One year ago, University of Birmingham researchers examined the effect of these eye drops on rats with AMD. The results from this study were so successful that they were encouraged to test the drops on larger eyes in pigs and rabbits.
Today, researchers are working on proof of concept studies and getting ready for a human-based trial. They expect the first clinical trial of their AMD eye drops will take place in early 2019.
There are two major forms of AMD: dry and wet. The dry form is more common and causes a person’s retinae to deteriorate over time. While wet AMD is rare, it’s far more severe because it involves leaky retinal blood vessels.
While AMD can’t be cured, doctors can help minimize the severity of symptoms. A few treatment options for AMD patients include medications, diet changes, and vitamin supplementation.
As the global population ages, AMD is likely to become one of the most common causes for blindness. Health experts believe 200 million people will have some form of AMD by 2020.
Doctors recommend everyone over the age of 40 get a visual check-up every year to keep tabs on AMD. Usually AMD symptoms don’t become apparent till the disease has progressed a great deal.
Dr. Felicity de Cogan, who teaches at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection, was the lead author on this research paper. A few other researchers involved in this project include Drs. Aisling Lynch, Matthew Berwick, and Anna Peacock.
Anyone interested in reading more about this research should check out the magazine Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. Study authors entitled their article, “Topical treatment for AMD: Non-invasive delivery and efficacy of ranibizumab and bevacizumab in rabbit and porcine eyes.”