Recently the Eye-care giant Alcon Laboratories is shelving a long-studied drug that initially had been considered promising for treating age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
The drug, which would have been injected into the eye once every three months, had been seen as a way to treat glaucoma and help patients avoid a regimen of eyedrops, the more typical treatment. Results from the latest studies, however, were insufficient to justify continuing study.
Now before going any further one would be interested to know about the diseases as Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is mainly caused due to increase in pressure due to the greater accumulation of eye water (aqueous humor). The entire concept is technically known as intraocular pressure (IOP). Though it is not the only cause of glaucoma. It has been found that normal eye pressure is 16 and patients who are affected with glaucoma is generally (please mark the word generally) is 25. It is to be told that people are there who have high IOP, may not suffer from glaucoma. But having an IOP of 25 increases about 13 times his or her chance of contracting glaucoma than that of a person having IOP 15.
This causes the anterior portion of the eye to push up or pull out of the eye cavity which results in pain and blurred vision in initial stages. Glaucoma in chronic cases may lead to blindness.
The main reason for increase in pressure inside eye is due to the failure of drainage inside the eye either due to blockage of the drainage path of eye that is known as trabecular meshwork, or the inability of the fluid to escape due to some other reasons.
Now as this pressure increases it gets conveyed to the inner eye too, and towards the optic nerves. These might after being exposed to enhancing pressure may get damaged leading to loss of vision.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a medical condition usually of older adults which results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field (the macula) because of damage to the retina. It occurs in “dry” and “wet” forms. It is a major cause of blindness in the elderly (>50 years). Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.
The inner layer of the eye is the retina, which contains nerves that communicate sight, and behind the retina is the choroid, which contains the blood supply to the retina. In the dry (non-exudative) form, cellular debris called drusen accumulate between the retina and the choroid, and the retina can become detached. In the wet (exudative) form, which is more severe, blood vessels grow up from the choroid behind the retina, and the retina can also become detached. It can be treated with laser coagulation, and with medication that stops and sometimes reverses the growth of blood vessels.
Although some macular dystrophy affecting younger individuals are sometimes referred to as macular degeneration, the term generally refers to age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD).
The laboratory reports:
"The search for alternative delivery routes and new mechanisms of action against glaucoma remain among Alcon’s most important research strategies," said Sabri Markabi, senior vice president of research and development, in a statement. "We will continue our efforts to address the issues of efficacy, patient compliance and other unmet medical needs in the treatment of glaucoma in concert with leading independent researchers around the world."
Discontinuing development of anecortave acetate will free up research and development funds for more promising projects, said Doug MacHatton, Alcon vice president for investor relations and strategic communications.
Alcon, based in Fort Worth, had originally developed anecortave acetate as a treatment for age-related macular degeneration. But the drug produced disappointing clinical results in a 2004 study and failed to win federal approval as a treatment for that illness.
Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness among older Americans. Alcon proceeded with studies to determine whether the drug could be used to reduce pressure associated with glaucoma.
Since Alcon laboratory has been continuously gifting us with vision saving drugs for a long time now, we would surely be optimistic about the success this time too. May be the drug hasn't worked well this time, but we are sure that the people at Alcon Lab will come up with something new and better for us.