The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the largest eye and vision research organization in the world, held its 2009 Annual Meeting from May 3 to 7 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Over 10,000 attendees from all over the world came to this year's meeting, and consisted of clinicians, scientists, optometrists, and others who are involved in vision care, research, and education.
James T. Rosenbaum, M.D., of the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, presented findings from the LUMINATE program, three phase III international trials investigating the oral drug LX211 (voclosporin) as a treatment for uveitis. "Uveitis, a term used to classify a group of autoimmune diseases characterized by chronic inflammation of the eye, is the fourth leading cause of blindness and often affects patients under the age of 40," Rosenbaum said in a statement. The dose-ranging portion of the LUMINATE studies found that a 0.4 mg/kg twice daily dose of LX211 was the safest, while still providing clinical benefit.
According to Rosenbaum, corticosteroids, a common treatment for uveitis, are "burdened with a variety of serious systemic side effects when given orally. Even if applied as drops to the eye, corticosteroids can cause cataract formation and glaucoma." Rosenbaum concluded, "based on the results of the LUMINATE trial program, LX211 appears to offer a therapeutic and safety profile that would meet the critical need for an oral medication for uveitis. LX211 is not a corticosteroid, but allows the reduced use of corticosteroids like prednisone, which in turn reduces the serious side effects associated with those drugs."
The LUMINATE clinical program was sponsored by Lux Biosciences, the manufacturer of LX211. Rosenbaum reported commercial relationships with several pharmaceutical companies, including Lux Biosciences.
Antonio Capone Jr., M.D., of a private practice in Royal Oak, Mich., reported the results of a clinical study of JSM6427 in neovascular age-related macular degeneration. JSM6427 is a novel small molecule antagonist against integrin α5β1, the fibronectin receptor. According to Capone, JSM6427 "has potential for anti-angiogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrotic activity."
This phase I open label, dose-escalation study included patients with subfoveal choroidal neovascularization and best corrected visual acuity ranging from 20/40 to 20/800, who were administered between one and four intravitreal injections of JSM6427. At day 15 following treatment, the best corrected visual acuity improved by an average of 3.5 to 8.0 letters depending on the dosage group. This improvement was sustained through day 43 in the two highest dosage groups. More than half (60 percent) of patients in these two highest dose groups did not require additional treatment for their symptoms for at least 12 weeks after receiving JSM6427.
Capone and other study authors reported a commercial relationship with Jerini Ophthalmic, the manufacturer of JSM6427. This study was funded by Jerini Ophthalmic.
Stephanie A. Hagstrom, Ph.D., of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, presented findings suggesting that protein and genomic biomarkers could successfully predict susceptibility to age-related macular degeneration.
Using plasma from 916 patients with age-related macular degeneration, carboxyethylpyrrole (CEP) adducts and autoantibody levels were found to be elevated by approximately 60 percent and 30 percent, respectively, compared with plasma from 488 control patients. Further, patients with macular degeneration were three-fold more likely to have both CEP markers elevated. Elevated CEP biomarkers were shown to increase the risk for macular degeneration by two- to three-fold compared with the risk based on genotypes alone. In combination with genetic markers, CEP biomarkers correctly identified plasma from patients with age-related macular degeneration with approximately 80 percent accuracy.
Some of the study authors reported commercial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.
Ermengarda Marziani, of the University of Milan Sacco Hospital in Italy, shared results of a study showing that, compared with healthy individuals, patients with Alzheimer's disease have significantly reduced thickness of both their retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and their RNFL plus ganglion cells layer.
Thickness was assessed using Spectral-Domain Optical Coherence Tomography, performed either with Spectralis for RNFL thickness or RTVue-100 for RNFL plus ganglion cell layer thickness. RNFL was assessed in eight Alzheimer's disease patients (16 eyes); RNFL plus ganglion cell layer thickness was measured in seven Alzheimer's disease patients (14 eyes); and both measurements were performed in eight normal individuals (15 eyes). The study authors concluded that "further studies are necessary to assess the correlation between Alzheimer's Disease stage and RNFL thickness and to verify the reduction of RNFL thickness in the progression of the disease."
The theme of this year's meeting, "Reducing Disparities in Eye Disease and Treatment", was reflected in the numerous lectures and scientific sessions, as researchers and practitioners addressed racial, ethnic, gender, age, geographic, and socioeconomic disparities. Hugh R. Taylor, M.D., from the University of Melbourne in Australia, presented a related keynote lecture entitled "Washington to Ouagadougou: Who Deserves to See?," during which he commented on how the large disparities in eye and vision health present around the world are being addressed.
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