January 9, 2012

A new therapy for diabetic macular edema

by

A secondary complication of diabetic retinopathy is diabetic macular edema (DME). This is due to leaking blood vessels within the eye. Doctors have used different methods of treating this condition but a lack of compelling evidence has been presented to win the stamp of approval from the FDA. This may soon change with the development of a novel treatment for diabetic macular edema thanks to KalVista Pharmaceuticals and JDRF.

One class of drugs used off-label to treat DME target VEGF or vascular endothelial growth factor. VEGF is produced in excessive amounts in people with diabetes. This is why doctors have used anti-VEGF drugs or VEGF inhibitors (Avastin, Lucentis, Macugen) to treat this condition. However a significant proportion of DME patients do not respond to VEGF treatment.

Plasma kallikrein negatively impacts the vessels of the eye differently than VEGF. KalVista’s scientific founders have published research that shows the plasma kallikrein is elevated in  patients with DME. The idea of a plasma kallikrein inhibitor may provide a new therapeutic opportunity to reduce retinal vascular permeability causing DME. This may be a valid reason as to why a significant proportion of DME patients don’t respond well to anti-VEGF or VEGF inhibitors intraocular injections.

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