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Drug shown to improve sight for patients with inherited blindness
Date:7/26/2011

A clinical trial led by Newcastle University shows that the drug, idebenone (Catena), improved the vision and perception of colour in patients with Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). The inherited condition means patients, who can see normally, lose the sight in one eye then within 3 to 6 months lose the sight in their other eye.

In some severely affected patients such as those who were unable to read any letters on the chart, the treatment with idebenone resulted in a marked improvement in their vision. In nine patients (12 eyes) out of 36 patients (61 eyes) taking idebenone, vision improved to the extent that patients were able to read at least one row of letters on the chart. In contrast not a single patient of the 26 who were taking the placebo improved to that extent.

Inherited from the mother, and mainly affecting men, LHON is caused by damage to the mitochondria in the eyes the 'batteries' which power their cells. It is one of the most common causes of inherited blindness and is thought to affect around 2,000 people in the UK, around 10,000 in Europe and a further 10,000 in the USA.

"This is the first proven treatment for a mitochondrial disorder. We have seen patients who couldn't even see an eye chart on the wall go on to read the first line down and some even attempted the second line. For these patients, it can mean a vast improvement in their quality of life," said Professor Patrick Chinnery, a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow in Clinical Science at Newcastle University who also works at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle part of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Released today in the journal Brain published by Oxford University Press, the authors describe how patients with LHON were recruited from Newcastle Hospitals in the UK, in Munich, Germany and in Montreal, Canada for a double blind trial. Patients were either given idebenone for 24 weeks or a placebo.


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Contact: Karen Bidewell or Sam Wood
press.office@ncl.ac.uk
44-191-222-7850
Newcastle University
Source:Eurekalert

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