Fovista: A new treatment for Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration

You may already know that we are lucky enough to have very effective treatments for wet age related macular degeneration. These medicines block a molecule called vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF (anti-VEGFs).

You may also be aware there are 3 main types of anti-VEGF medicine, which act on different isomers (same chemical formula but different structure) of VEGF.

These are Avastin (bevacizumab), Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Eylea (aflibercept). They are all available privately at my practice in the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration and are given by injection to the vitreous cavity of the eye (intravitreal injection).

Each one has various advantages and certain limitations, which will be described in more detail in one of my later blogs.

You may not however have come across a newer treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration called Fovista. This has been developed by Ophthotech and blocks a molecule called platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and is also given by an intravitreal injection.

This molecule plays a role in scarring related to the abnormal leaking blood vessels found under the retina in wet age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of central vision.

Phase 2 studies where a drug is tested for safety, dosing and short term clinical effectiveness have been completed. These have shown that Fovista is safe and also more effective in combination with Lucentis for wet age-related macular degeneration than Lucentis alone.

At present the phase 3 studies of Fovista are underway which will show more safety data and longer term clinical effectiveness of the medicine in combination with each of the three anti-VEGF medicines (Avastin, Lucentis, Eylea) to see which combination is most effective.

This approach by the pharmaceutical companies reflects the fact that the disease mechanism of wet age related macular degeneration probably depends on many molecular pathways.

Blocking VEGF and PDGF together in wet age related macular degeneration has the potential to further improve our clinical treatment of this condition, which affects over 200,000 people in the United Kingdom.

Fovista is not available for treatment just yet but when we have the results of the phase 3 trials, I will be in a position to advise you on whether it can benefit you. If you have any questions about this or if you are concerned about wet age-related macular degeneration, please feel free to call me on 020 7305 5063