SEP 16, 2021 5:00 PM PDT

A shot for sore eyes: a novel injectable drug to treat age-related vision loss

WRITTEN BY: J. Bryce Ortiz

According to the Population Reference Bureau, 40 million people in the United States are aged 65 and older. This number is expected to more than double by the year 2050 when approximately 90 million individuals will be 65 years old or older. Old age is a risk factor for many diseases and among these are age-related vision problems such as cataracts, diabetic macular edema, and certain types of macular degeneration. Diabetic macular edema and macular degeneration often lead to low vision or blindness as these disorders deteriorate the retina of the eye. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and sends signals, via the optic nerve, to the brain to make sense of what we are seeing. Degeneration of the retina leads to low vision and blindness, which refers to a permanent loss of vision that interferes with common age-appropriate seeing tasks and is not capable of being corrected with eyeglasses or surgical interventions. 

One current treatment for diabetic macular edema and macular degeneration is called Eylea, an medication that is injected directly into the eye every 1 to 2 months. This drug has been life changing for patients as it helps to preserve vision in older adults with these eye disorders. In fact, Eylea was the fifth best-selling drugworldwide in 2020. However, the monthly regimen of the drug is often cumbersome for patients as it requires frequent visits to their physician. Recently, the pharmaceutical company Roche announced its data on their novel drug, Faricimab, that was designed to treat diabetic macular edema and macular degeneration and is longer lasting than Eylea.

Faricimab is an injectable antibody that targets two signaling pathways that drive the degeneration of the retina in these conditions. While this is a similar mechanism of treatment as Eylea, Faricimab is promising because it only requires an injection once every four months, instead of Eylea’s monthly regimen. Dr. Jeffery Heier, the director of Retinal Research at Ophthalmic Consultants in Boston said, “Faricimab’s potential to extend time between treatments may benefit those patients who struggle to keep up with the regular physician visits and eye injections needed to preserve their vision.”

Roche announced in February that in four clinical studies on diabetic macular edema and neurovascular age-related macular degeneration, many of the patients that received Faricimab every four months maintained their initial vision without further vision loss and with minimal side effects. Dr. Levi Garraway, Chief Medical Officer at Roche, summed up these studies by saying that, “these positive results show the potential for Faricimab as the first new type of medicine in 15 years for people with [age-related vision problems…and] we hope to bring these potential treatments to people living with vision-threatening retinal conditions as soon as possible.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the application for Faricimab and is currently reviewing the data. The FDA is projected to make a decision on its approval by the end of December 2021. 

 

Sources: Population Reference BureauMayo ClinicDrug Discovery TrendsNatureJAMA;

About the Author
  • Science and medical writer | Researcher | Interested in the intersection between translational science, drug development, and policy
You May Also Like
JUL 27, 2021
Immunology
Rethinking Immune Responses Involved in Skin Hypersensitivity
JUL 27, 2021
Rethinking Immune Responses Involved in Skin Hypersensitivity
A study by immunologists at the University of Copenhagen has revealed a never-before-seen immune pathway invol ...
AUG 12, 2021
Cancer
Promising Drug Target Identified for Deadly Ovarian Cancer
AUG 12, 2021
Promising Drug Target Identified for Deadly Ovarian Cancer
Scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have identified a gene called DOT1L for its role in progressing th ...
AUG 17, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Sleep Apnea Doubles the Risk of Sudden Death
AUG 17, 2021
Sleep Apnea Doubles the Risk of Sudden Death
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most commonly reported sleep disorder, with loud snoring being one of the tell-t ...
AUG 19, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Can drugs increase sociability after pediatric brain injury?
AUG 19, 2021
Can drugs increase sociability after pediatric brain injury?
     Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a leading cause of death and disability in children. In the Unit ...
AUG 31, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
A drug-free rehabilitation system for stroke survivors.
AUG 31, 2021
A drug-free rehabilitation system for stroke survivors.
     Last week, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a first-of-its-kind&nb ...
OCT 14, 2021
Cancer
Mechanism of Resistance to Colorectal Cancer Treatment Uncovered
OCT 14, 2021
Mechanism of Resistance to Colorectal Cancer Treatment Uncovered
Colorectal cancer develops when a series of changes occur across multiple genes.  While researchers have paid signi ...
Loading Comments...