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Lucentis proven effective for proliferative diabetic retinopathy

A clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that the drug ranibizumab (Lucentis) is highly effective in treating proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). The trial, conducted by the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR.net), compared Lucentis with a type of laser therapy called scatter or panretinal photocoagulation (PRP), which has remained the gold standard of treatment for PDR since the mid-1970s. The findings demonstrate the first major therapy advance in nearly 40 years. The physicians of Retina Associates of Cleveland, Inc, have been participating as a clinical site for the DRCR Network since 2003. These encouraging results are from the DRCR.net Protocol S: PRP vs. Anti-VEGF for PDR study.

A complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can damage blood vessels in the light-sensitive retina in the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy becomes proliferative when lack of blood flow in the retina increases production of a substance called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which can stimulate the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels. Lucentis (an anti-VEGF medication) is among several drugs that block the effects of vascular endothelial growth factor.

Treating abnormal retinal blood vessels with laser therapy became the standard treatment for PDR after the NIHs National Eye Institute (NEI) announced results of the Diabetic Retinopathy Study in 1976. Although laser therapy effectively preserves central vision, it can damage night and side vision; so, researchers have sought therapies that work as well or better than laser but without such side effects. The report suggests that, in addition to treating PDR, Lucentis may even help prevent diabetic macular edema, an accumulation of fluid in the center of the retina.

These latest results from the DRCR Network provide crucial evidence for a safe and effective alternative to laser therapy against proliferative diabetic retinopathy, said Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, director of the NEI, which funded the trial. The results were published online 11.13.15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Retina Associates of Cleveland, Inc, is the largest retinal practice in Ohio, with 11 retinal specialists and 9 office locations throughout NE Ohio, and is actively involved in a variety of other clinical trials to evaluate new treatments for age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other retinal diseases. For more information on this or other research studies, please call our Retina Associates Beachwood office at (216) 831-5700.

For more information, visit the DRCR.net website at http://drcrnet.jaeb.org/. View an NEI video about the study at https://youtu.be/jPoCIa0_1po.