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

At the end of the six months, some patients who were taking idebenone had improved vision and this is the first time a successful treatment has been found. The greatest improvement was seen in patients who had deteriorated in one eye more than the other.

Professor Chinnery explained: "We saw most progress in people who had better vision in one eye than the other - this tends to indicate that they are at an earlier stage of the condition. While we know that their vision is not what it once was, we also know that this treatment can dramatically improve their lives some were able to move around more easily or even see family photos again."

Idebenone penetrates into the mitochondria and is thought to mop-up toxic free radicals and enhance mitochondrial function. Previous research had provided anecdotal reports of improvements in vision but this is the first time it had been put to the test in a clinical trial. The drug company which sponsored this trial, Santhera Pharmaceuticals, is now seeking marketing approval from the European Medicines Agency for it to be offered as a standard form of treatment.

"We are hearing from patients that they still have improved vision even though they are no longer taking the drug but we would like to verify this and study the effect further," said Professor Chinnery. "There may also be a case for offering idebenone from the first moment that LHON is diagnosed preferably before any symptoms are shown - and a further trial would ideally examine this."

"I lost the sight in my left eye in just five days"

Mike Scholes, 58 from Lindfield in West Sussex, UK and a graduate of Newcastle University took part in the trial. He said: "I was training for a freefall parachute jump five years ago when I noticed I was having problems with my eye. I went for an eye test at the optician and on the way to pick up my glasses five days later, I nearly crashed the car. The optician tested my right eye and
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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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