Local, News, Ophthalmology, Research

Nanodrug macular treatment yields ‘impressive results’


A leading researcher in Queensland has lauded the efficacy of a pioneering treatment for ocular neovascular disease recently trialled in animals.

Professor Di Yu of the University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute collaborated with scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Chaoyang Hospital to challenge the current standard of treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy – anti-VEGF injections.

“At the moment, ocular neovascular diseases are treated by a method that suppresses a particular growth factor for vessels, but between 40 and 60% of patients do not respond well,” Yu said.

“Those who do not respond well might exude fluids, have unresolved or new bleeding, thickening or scarring of tissue, or fail to recover functional vision.”

Yu and his collaborators are pioneering a more complex nanodrug which not only delivers an antibody, but simultaneously combats inflammation and identified side effects.

In their study of the novel treatment in animals, published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, volumes of lesions were reduced by 95%.

Dr Yong Tao, chief ophthalmologist at the Department of Ophthalmology, Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, Capital Medical University. He is a major collaborator in the study and one of senior authors.

“The efficacy was superb,” Yu said. “The new design allows the nanodrug to concentrate on lesions and deliver lasting benefits.

“With the impressive results, further developments are now under way to translate it into a new therapy,” he said.

Yu said the high prevalence of ocular neovascular disease, with 415 million people at risk of loss of sight through diabetes, and as many as 50 million with AMD, was likely to get worse.

“With an aging population, the number of cases of age-related macular degeneration is expected to increase as much as five-fold by 2040,” he said.

“This new approach will hopefully benefit a large number of patients with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy by improving eyesight and preventing blindness.”

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