Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, together with colleaguesat other institutions, have published new findings in the hunt for a better treatment for macular degeneration. In studies using mice, a class of drugs known as MDM2 inhibitors proved highly effective at causing the regression of the abnormal blood vessels responsible for the vision loss associated with the disease. “We believe we may have found an optimized treatment for macular degeneration,” said senior study author Sai Chavala, M.D., director of the Laboratory for Retinal Rehabilitation and assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Cell Biology & Physiology at the UNC School of Medicine. “Our hope is that MDM2 inhibitors would reduce the treatment burden on both patients and physicians.” The research was published online in an open-access article on September 9, 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. As many as 11 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of central vision loss in the western world. Those with the disease find many daily activities such as driving, reading, and watching TV increasingly difficult. Currently, the best available treatment for macular degeneration is an antibody called anti-VEGF that is injected into the eye. Patients must visit their doctor for a new injection every 4-8 weeks, adding up to significant time and cost. “The idea is we’d like to have a long-lasting treatment so patients wouldn’t have to receive as many injections,” said Dr. Chavala. “That would reduce their overall risk of eye infections, and also potentially lower the economic burden of this condition by reducing treatment costs.” Dr. Chavala practices at the Kittner Eye Center at UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill and New Bern.
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