Associate Professor Anthony Kwan has performed Queensland’s first surgery for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with an anti-VEGF port delivery system (PDS) that is approved in the US and may have regulatory clearance in Australia soon.
Kwan, director of the Vitreoretinal Service at Queensland Eye Institute (QEI), operated on the first patient in Queensland – and 14th in Australia – with the therapy that slowly releases anti-VEGF medication within the eye (over 24 to 36 weeks).
It is designed to address the treatment burden of regular anti-VEGF intravitreal injections, commonly every four to 12 weeks, depending on the disease.
Following successful international clinical trials, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Susvimo PDS containing ranibizumab for nAMD in October 2021.
The device is not approved for clinical use in Australia at present, but a trial at QEI is assessing the effects of anti-VEGF delivered by the PDS on participants with nAMD. There are now 73 sites worldwide, including Australia, Italy, Brazil, Austria, Belgium, the UK, Spain, Taiwan, Switzerland and France, which offer this treatment on a clinical trial basis.
According to QEI, the implant is slightly longer than a grain of rice and is covered by the thin, transparent mucosa covering the eye (conjunctiva) and is usually not visible under the upper eyelid.
The implant, intended to remain life-long in the eye unless removed for medical reasons, releases anti-VEGF continuously over a long period and can be refilled by an ophthalmologist.
QEI is the only site in Queensland offering the device to selected trial patients. They undergo a surgical implantation procedure in the operating room, with part of the trial determining the optimum duration between refills. This means participants will have the implant refilled at either six or nine-month intervals.
A month after performing Queensland’s first procedure with the PDS, Kwan said the operation had been a success.
“And the patient is doing exceptionally well with no complication. The patient’s vision is maintained, and he is happy to be part of this ground-breaking treatment. We are looking forward to recruiting more patients in the coming months,” he said.