Once-Promising Study of Encapsulated Cell Technology Halted

Researchers have found no significant difference between patients implanted with capsules manufacturing the drug NT-503 and patients receiving anti-VEGF drug injections.
As reported on this site in 2015, Neurotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced a Phase 2 clinical study of NT-503 Encapsulated Cell Therapy (ECT) for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study planned to compare ECT to Eylea injection alone after 108 weeks.
ECT is an implant into the eyeball genetically engineered to produce the anti-VEGF drug NT-503 for at least 2 years. ECT acts like a miniature factory for production and distribution of antiangiogenic and anti-inflammatory drugs in AMD patients long-term without the burden and risks of frequent injections.
In a presentation to the 2016 American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting, Szilard Kiss, MD, reported that NT-503 did not meet expectations at 24 weeks, so the study with AMD patients was halted. Dr. Kiss did, however, note that ECT technology still holds promise as an effective and less invasive alternative to anti-VEGF injections, and that a similar study of people with macular telangiectasia is still underway.