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Diabetic eye disease drug combo completes successful trial

Researchers have developed a two-drug cocktail they believe may be more effective than current treatments at reducing the degenerative effects of diabetes-related eye conditions.

Scientists from the University of Florida (UF) completed a 12-week test on laboratory mice after combining two existing drugs to formulate the drug mixture angiotensin receptor neprisilyn inhibitor (ARNI).

The study, published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, showed the two-drug treatment was more effective than irbesartin – a drug currently used to treat symptoms associated with diabetic eye disease – across a range of areas.

Significantly, study co-author Professor Tuhina Prasad said the drug mix was more effective in reducing inflammation, which is one of the main symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.

"If you can decrease that inflammation, it protects the retinal cells and delays the progression of the disease," Prasad said.

ARNI also reduced capillary loss in the retina by 68%, compared with the 43% improvement measured on mice that were administered with irbesartin.

Although the ARNI did not completely reverse the impacts of diabetic retinopathy, Prasad said it slowed down the progression of cell damage in the mice models.

The new drug cocktail reduced the death of retinal cells by 51%, compared to the single drug treatment at 25%.

ARNI is a combination of irbesartin – an angiotensin receptor blocker also used to treat high blood pressure – and a neprilysin inhibitor called thiorphan, an anti-diarrhea compound.

However, the researchers pointed out more tests still needed to be done before the drug went through human clinical trials to determine any possible long-term or chronic side effects of using the neprilysin enzyme inhibitor on the eye.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands. Research funding came from the National Institutes of Health, Bright Focus Foundation, and the American Diabetes Association, along with the National Eye Institute and Research to Prevent Blindness.


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