A drug originally hoped to help patients with cardiovascular disease now instead may become a way to protect people with diabetes from blindness, a new study shows.
Vision loss is one of the most common complications in people with diabetes. Blindness caused by a condition known as diabetic macular edema, or swelling of the retina, occurs in approximately 7 percent of patients with diabetes and is one of the most common causes of blindness.
The drug, called darapladib, is an experimental medication that was developed through genetic research. In this new study, a UK research team, in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, the drug’s manufacturer, find that the drug inhibits an enzyme which is increased in people with diabetes and causes blood vessel leakage in the eye which leads to swelling of the retina and severe vision loss.
Currently, the most common treatment for patients with this condition is the injection of a drug directly into the eye every four-to-six weeks. This therapy is very expensive and not effective for about half of all patients with this particular eye disease, the researchers say.
On the other hand, darapladib, which is an oral medication, has the potential to reduce the need for the injections, and provide protection to a much larger group of patients, including those who are not helped by standard treatment, the researchers say of the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The drug was being developed in hopes of preventing heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events in patients who had suffered heart attack, but failed to show any benefits following a major trial, according to a 2014 study
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