New drug could halt vision loss associated with macular degeneration

Washington: A study by researchers including an Indian origin has identified a class of drugs known as MDM2 inhibitors that proved highly effective at regressing the abnormal blood vessels responsible for the vision loss associated with macular degeneration.

Experiments using mice by researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine show promising results for a drug that could lead to a lasting treatment for millions of Americans with macular degeneration.

The study's senior author Sai Chavala , MD, director of the Laboratory for Retinal Rehabilitation and assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Cell Biology and Physiology at the UNC School of Medicine, said that their hope is that MDM2 inhibitors would reduce the treatment burden on both patients and physicians.

Chavala said that they would like to have a long-lasting treatment so patients wouldn't have to receive as many injections. That would reduce their overall risk of eye infections, and also potentially lower the economic burden of this condition by reducing treatment costs.

While anti-VEGF, present available treatment for macular degeneration, works by targeting the growth factors that lead to leaky blood vessels, MDM2 inhibitors target the abnormal blood vessels themselves causing them to regress- potentially leading to a lasting effect.

Chavala and his colleagues investigated the effects of MDM2 inhibitors in cell culture and in a mouse model of macular degeneration. They found that the drug abolishes the problematic blood vessels associated with wet macular degeneration by activating a protein known as p53- a master regulator that determines if a cell lives or dies.

The researcher said that by activating p53, we can initiate the cell death process in these abnormal blood vessels.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.