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Drug therapy shows significant benefit in treating a leading cause of childhood blindness
Date:2/16/2011

A readily available, inexpensive drug therapy showed a significant benefit in treating premature infants with the worst and historically most difficult-to-treat cases of retinopathy of prematurity.

The results of a multicenter clinical trial led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) are published in the Feb. 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Retinopathy of prematurity is a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. In the immature retina of babies born before 30 weeks' gestational age, the disease results in disorganized growth of retinal blood vessels, which can lead to scarring and retinal detachment.

In this study, Helen A. Mintz-Hittner, M.D., the Alfred W. Lasher, III, Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the UTHealth Medical School, and colleagues compared the use of intravitreal bevacizumab, an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, to conventional laser treatment.

The study investigators treated infants with acute retinopathy of prematurity affecting zone I and posterior zone II the retinal zones with the highest rate of treatment failure.

Data on the outcomes of 143 infants enrolled in the study showed that, among infants with zone I disease, the recurrence rate was 6 percent with intravitreal bevacizumab and 42 percent with conventional laser therapy. The drug therapy resulted in mild anatomical retinal abnormality in just one eye of 31 infants, whereas conventional laser treatment resulted in a mild structural abnormality in 16 eyes and severe abnormality in two eyes of 33 infants.

"When I started working with babies almost 40 years ago, there was nothing we could do for those with retinopathy of prematurity," said Mintz-Hittner, the study's principal investigator. "We've gone from nothing to a real solution. It you are careful and administer this therapy appropriately in stage 3+, you c
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Contact: Meredith Raine
Meredith.Raine@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3030
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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