October 3, 2013

New Drug Effective in Treating Vitreous Traction

Posted in: Latest News, Therapies, Treatments, and Procedures

Early treatment with a new drug called JETREA® (formerly called ocriplasmin) has shown effectiveness in lessening the risk of macular pucker, macular hole, and vitreomacular traction (VMT). These conditions are caused by the tugging on the macula by the vitreous gel, which is attached to the retina at several points. As the vitreous shrinks with age, it puts tension on these “adhesions”. If the adhesion does not release spontaneously, the retinal tissue can be torn, and surgery is required to save vision.

Until recently, vitreomacular adhesion (VMA) could not be prevented in its early stages. Now, however, the biopharmaceutical company, ThromboGenics, has announced that a large retrospective review of VMA/VMT patients confirms that early treatment with JETREA® “may stop disease progression and lead to better visual function outcome”. The announcement was made by Prof. Dr. Peter Stalmans, Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, at the recent EURETINA annual meeting of European Society of Retina Specialists in Hamburg.

Dr. Patrik De Haes, CEO of ThromboGenics, said, “We are pleased to see how the results highlight the opportunity for JETREA® as an early treatment option for those patients who would normally only be observed. These new data and ‘real life’ insights will help us to further educate the community about the risk of disease progression and the patient benefit of early treatment”.

One caveat has been offered by research team member Jeffrey S. Heier, M.D. In an article published online in January 2013 at Eyeworld.org, Dr. Heier said, “Patients who are symptomatic for epiretinal membrane will not respond well.” Epiretinal membrane is also caused by adhesion, but it is a larger, broader attachment, and patients with that condition “are not likely to respond,” according to Dr. Heier.

ThromboGenics recently received approval from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for their product, recommending it as an innovative new treatment that should be reimbursed within the National Health Service in England and Wales. The hope is that the treatment will trickle down to doctors in the US and how they look at treating
patients here with low vision due to symptomatic VMA.

Watch a video interview with Prof. Stalmans at Euretina .

Read the original press release.

Read Macular Hole, Epiretinal Membranes and Macular Pucker Have Similar Origins.

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