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New wonder drug could treat blindness

Swiss drug maker Novartis has developed a drug that could treat blindness by combating the wet form of a condition called age-related// macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD usually affects people above 60 years of age and the wet form progresses quickly and can cause blindness.

The drug called Lucentis was tried on 716 patients in the US who received monthly injections of the drug into the affected eye over a two-year period.

One-third experienced a "marked improvement" in vision, enabling them to read more lines on an eye chart than before and return to abandoned hobbies, reported the online edition of Daily mail.

It is the first time a treatment for wet AMD has been found to significantly improve vision in large-scale clinical trials, said the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lucentis targets abnormal blood vessels that grow behind the eyeball. These vessels can leak and cause damage to parts of the eye responsible for central vision.

The drug, which is also known by its generic name Ranibizumab, has not yet been priced in Britain.

But in the US it costs around $2,000 a treatment. The drug is due to be licensed in Britain by the end of the year.


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