Use of Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor Slows Vision Loss

Treatment holds promise for people with geographic atrophy

MONDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) treatment shows promise for slowing the progression of vision loss in people with a type of age-related macular degeneration -- geographic atrophy (GA), according to the results of a phase 2 clinical trial published in the April 12 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California at San Diego in La Jolla, and colleagues randomly assigned 51 patients with GA to high-dose or low-dose CNTF delivered by encapsulated cell therapy or to sham surgery to test the effectiveness of the treatment.

The researchers found that CNTF treatment resulted in a dose-dependent thickening of the retina, followed by visual acuity stabilization in 96.3 percent of the high-dose group, 83.3 percent of the low-dose group, and 75 percent of the sham group. A subgroup analysis of those with best corrected visual acuity of 20/63 or better at baseline showed that all patients in the high-dose group lost fewer than 15 letters, compared with 55.6 percent in the combined low-dose/sham group.

"These findings suggest that CNTF delivered by the encapsulated cell technology implant appears to slow the progression of vision loss in GA, especially in eyes with 20/63 or better vision at baseline," the authors write.

One author is an employee of Neurotech, which holds a patent on encapsulated cell technology.

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