Channel 7 News (18 October 2010) reported a study which was presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology congress on Oct 17. This US study showed that a drug called fenretinide may help slow the progression of the dry form of MD to the end stage of dry MD called geographic atrophy. It may also help to stop or slow the progression of the dry form to the more serious wet form of the disease. While this research is very exciting, it should be stressed that this is an early study and many more studies are needed before the drug can be made available for use for MD.
Fenretinide is already in use for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and some other skin conditions, but this study is new research specifically directed at dry MD.
Fenretinide works by helping to remove some of the waste products called lipofuscin which accumulate in the eye during the course of dry MD. These waste products are normally cleared from a healthy eye, but tend to accumulate in dry MD. Fenretinide helps to clear these waste materials away.
The MD Foundation is not aware of any trials for this drug in Australia at this time. We are also not yet able to provide any information as to when it might be available, assuming it continues to demonstrate safety and efficacy in future studies.
The Foundation will provide further information to our members when it becomes available.
19 October 2010