Investigators have determined that treating patients with the early wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with levodopa, stabilized and improved their vision. Levodopa is a safe and readily available drug commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease,
The drug reduced the number of treatments necessary to maintain vision, and as such, will potentially reduce the burden of treating the disease, financially and otherwise. Their findings appear in the American Journal of Medicine, published by Elsevier.
The investigators developed two proof-of-concept studies to test whether levodopa improves visual acuity and the anatomical changes caused by nAMD. This trial demonstrated for the first time that levodopa is safe, well-tolerated, and delayed anti-VEGF injection therapy while improving visual outcomes. In the first month, retinal fluid decreased by 29 percent. After six months the decrease in retinal fluid was sustained and mean visual acuity improved enabling patients to read an additional line on the eye chart. This is the equivalent of improvement from 20/40 to 20/32. Side effects were limited.
The investigators noted that levodopa may be unlikely as a standalone treatment in patients with newly diagnosed nAMD since 11 of the patients did require anti-VEGF injections. However, they required fewer than the standard monthly treatments, and in the second group, monthly injections of anti-VEGF decreased by 52 percent.
In spite of the small sample size and limited patient diversity, the findings suggest efficacy and support the targeting of the GPR13 receptor (which is supportive of retinal health and survival) with levodopa for the treatment of nAMD in future studies.
SOURCE: News Release