Researchers are reporting results from the first year of a two-year clinical trial that Avastin, a drug approved to treat some cancers and that is commonly used off-label to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is as effective as the Food and Drug Administration-approved drug Lucentis for the treatment of AMD.
The report, from the Comparison of AMD Treatments Trials (CATT), was published online in the New England Journal of Medicine on Sunday, May 1, 2011. CATT is funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health.
"Over 250,000 patients are treated each year for AMD, and a substantial number of them receive Avastin. Given the lack of efficacy data regarding Avastin for AMD treatment, the NEI had an obligation to patients and clinicians to conduct this study," said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NEI.
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in older Americans. In its advanced stages, the wet form of AMD spurs the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which leak fluid and blood into the macula and obscure vision. The macula is the central portion of the retina that allows us to look straight ahead and to perceive fine visual detail. Accumulation of fluid and blood damages the macula, causing loss of central vision. AMD can severely impede mobility and independence. Many patients are unable to drive, read, recognize faces or perform tasks that require hand-eye coordination.
Genentech, the maker of both drugs, originally developed Avastin to prevent blood vessel growth that enables cancerous tumors to develop and spread. In 2004, the FDA approved Avastin for the systemic treatment of metastatic colon cancer. Genentech later developed Lucentis, derived from a protein similar to Avastin, specifically for injection in the eye to block blood vessel growth in AMD.
In 2005, two Genentech-sponsored clinical trials established Lucent
|Contact: Jean Horrigan|
NIH/National Eye Institute