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Publication Date: 01 February 2013
Moorfields is to participate in a clinical trial to evaluate a new therapeutic treatment using eye drops to treat the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. It will be one of 11 centres across Europe participating in the trial together with BCN Peptides (a biopharmaceutical company) under EUROCONDOR, the European Consortium on the early treatment of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that occurs in people living with diabetes. It involves changes in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina at the back of the eye which can ultimately lead to severe loss of vision or even blindness. Today, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of preventable blindness among working-age individuals in developed countries.
Along with the human suffering from this devastating complication comes an increasingly heavy economic burden: healthcare costs for patients with diabetic retinopathy are almost double that of patients without the complication.
There is growing evidence to suggest that retinal neurodegeneration plays an important role in the onset of diabetic retinopathy. With this in mind, EUROCONDOR will conduct a controlled phase II and III clinical trial to assess whether therapeutic strategies based on neuroprotection are effective not only in preventing or arresting retinal neurodegeneration but also in preventing the development and progression of the early stages of diabetic retinopathy.
The trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a new therapeutic eye drop treatment based on two neuroprotective drugs: somatostatin (a peptide hormone) and brimonidine (a drug currently used to treat glaucoma).
Consultant ophthalmologist Cathy Egan who is leading the trial at Moorfields Eye Hospital said: “Small blood vessel damage has been the primary focus of investigation and therapy in this disorder for some time, but there has been a long-standing interest in the neurodegenerative aspects of diabetic retinopathy and whether you can modify this. That is what this project aims to address in a large international study. We are intending to recruit 41 patients for the trial and to start the screening at the end of February.
“The trial is an important step in the development of a new, non-invasive treatment for this devastating complication of diabetes, given early in the disease. We also hope that the findings of this research will pave the way for new screening systems that will allow us to diagnose diabetic retinopathy at earlier stages, which in turn would allow us to provide better care for our patients.”
“Until recently, the use of eye drops has not been considered an appropriate route for the administration of drugs in the early treatment of this complication because of the general assumption that they do not reach the retina”, comments Dr Rafael Simó, Director of Diabetes Research and Metabolism Unit at VHIR (Hospital Universitari de la Vall d’Hebrón – Institut de Recerca) and coordinator of the EUROCONDOR project.
“However, recent studies show that many drugs are able to reach the retina in effective concentrations.”
These findings mean that neuroprotective drugs administered through eye drops have the potential to open up a new strategy to treat the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Positive outcomes for the EUROCONDOR project could have a considerable impact on prevention, placing neurodegeneration as a new target for early detection of diabetic retinopathy in people with diabetes.
The EUROCONDOR project, which is funded by the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Union, began in March 2012 and is scheduled to be completed in February 2016.
Notes to editors:
- EUROCONDOR is a collaborative project funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. The project is coordinated by the Fundació Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebrón - Institut de Recerca (VHIR). The EUROCONDOR consortium includes 17 partners across Europe, of which 11 clinical centres that will recruit patients to carry out the trial.
- For the full list of project partners, go to www.eurocondor.eu/partners
- For more information about EUROCONDOR, visit www.eurocondor.eu
- For more information on the EU’s 7th Framework Programme, go to http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7
- Please note that the present press release reflects only the author’s views and the European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein
About Moorfields Eye Hospital
- Moorfields is one of the world’s leading eye hospitals, providing expertise in clinical care, research and education. We have provided excellence in eye care for more than 200 years and we continue to be at the forefront of new breakthroughs and developments. We are an integral part of one of the UK’s first academic health science centres, UCL Partners, and were one of the first NHS organisations to achieve foundation trust status in 2004.
- We treat the entire range of eye diseases, from common complaints to rare conditions which require treatments not available anywhere else in the UK. We dealt with more than 475,000 patient visits in 2011/12 at our main hospital base in London’s City Road and at 19 other sites in and around the capital, enabling us to provide expert care closer to patients’ homes.
- With our research partners at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, we run one of the largest ophthalmic research programmes in the world and have the highest measure of scientific productivity and impact in the world for our research activity.
- For further information, please visit www.moorfields.nhs.uk