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Manchester recruit first UK patient to a trial of new treatment regimes for eye condition

MREHA study looking into new treatment schedules for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has recruited its first patient at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

AMD currently affects more than 600,000 people in the UK and is the leading cause of adult blindness in the developed world.  AMD is a painless eye condition, which causes people to lose central vision, usually in both eyes. Central vision is what you see when you focus straight ahead. In AMD, this vision becomes increasingly blurred, which means reading becomes difficult, colours appear less vibrant and people's faces are difficult to recognise.

Consultant in Ophthalmology at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and Honorary Lecturer at The University of Manchester, Mr Konstantinos Balaskas is leading the study in Manchester to find out more about the effectiveness of aflibercept after the first year of treatment in patients suffering from neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD).

The research, which is supported by the NIHR and being funded by Bayer Healthcare AG, will look to compare two different aflibercept therapy regimens and how effective they are, and the safety of aflibercept and how well it is tolerated by patients.

Aflibercept is an approved drug for the treatment of nAMD and although it is already on the market for the condition, researchers want to learn more about the effectiveness and safety of different treatment regimens of aflibercept in people who have already been treated for approximately one year.

The trial will include more than 300 patients in Europe and Canada. About 165 patients will be treated in a fixed bimonthly interval and the other 165 might be treated in extended intervals based on their physician's decision.

Mr Balaskas said: "I am delighted that the first patient in the UK was screened for this study in December, and we successfully randomised the first patient last Friday, the 12th of February.

"The study drug will be administered by a direct injection into the eye. It will work by weakening the effect of so called vascular endothelial growth factor, a tissue component that normally is needed for the growth of new blood vessels. Too much VEGF is part of the nAMD disease process and makes new unwanted leaky vessels develop damaging the retina. This is the main cause of reduced vision in nAMD.

"This research project will help us determine how best to treat patients suffering from nAMD with aflibercept to ensure the best possible outcome for their vision. I am very proud of our research team in Manchester that has repeatedly achieved excellent performance in setting up and carrying out research in Ophthalmology, leading to early uptake of novel treatments for our patients."