Anti-VEGF Drug (Lucentis) Injections Highly Effective in Treating Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, Joslin Diabetes Center & Harvard Medical School Scientists Report

A clinical trial among more than 300 patients has found that the drug ranibizumab (Lucentis) is highly effective in treating proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), a complication of diabetes that can severely damage eyesight. The results, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (see article link below), demonstrate the first major therapy advance for the condition in nearly 40 years. A different report of the same study was previously described in a BioQuick News article ( based on a JAMA news release ). Funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and conducted by the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (, the JAMA-reported trial compared Lucentis injections with a type of laser therapy called panretinal photocoagulation, which has remained the gold standard for PDR since the mid-1970s. Although laser therapy preserves central vision, it can damage night vision and side vision, so researchers have sought therapies that lack these side-effects. The new trial results "provide crucial evidence for a safe and effective alternative to laser therapy against PDR," said NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. "Patients who received Lucentis showed a little bit better central vision, much less loss of their side vision, and substantially less risk for surgery than patients who received laser treatment," said Lloyd Paul Aiello, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "These findings will change the available treatment options for patients with PDR." Diabetic retinopathy damages blood vessels in the light-sensitive retina in the back of the eye. As the disease worsens, blood vessels can swell and lose their ability to function properly.
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