The second year of data from a nationwide, federally funded trial continues to show that the cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) is an effective and economical treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
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Clinical trial: More evidence that cancer drug treats macular degeneration
The Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT) study, published recently in the Journal of Ophthalmology, built on the one-year results that came out a year ago. They both showed that bevacizumab and the 40 times more expensive Lucentis (ranibizumab) are equally good treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration.
"This is more good news for patients," said Suresh Chandra , professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "We also found that patients who were treated monthly did a little bit better than those who received the medication ’as needed.’"
Chandra led the Wisconsin center of the National Eye Institute clinical trial, which released its first year’s worth of results Thursday. Of 1,208 patients who participated in the trial, 26 were treated at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
The CATT trial, and similar results from a European comparison of the two drugs, were both presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in early May.
View the two-year results of the CATT trial (pdf)
The National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, estimates that more than 250,000 patients are treated each year for AMD, the leading cause of vision loss in older Americans. In its advanced stages, the wet form of age-related macular degeneration spurs the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which leak fluid and blood into the macula and obscure vision.
The macula is the central portion of the retina that allows us to look straight ahead and to perceive fine visual detail. AMD can cause loss of central vision, which can take away patients’ mobility and independence as they lose the ability to drive, read, recognize faces or perform tasks that require hand-eye coordination.
Genentech, the maker of both drugs, originally developed Avastin to prevent blood-vessel growth that enables cancerous tumors to develop and spread. In 2004, the FDA approved Avastin for the systemic treatment of metastatic colon cancer. Genentech later developed Lucentis, derived from a protein similar to Avastin, specifically for injection in the eye to block blood-vessel growth in age-related macular degeneration.
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