Patients With Glaucoma Can Be Taught To Measure Their Own Intraocular Pressure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrew Tatham Consultant Ophthalmologist Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and Department of Ophthalmology University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Dr. Tatham

Andrew Tatham, FRCOphth
Consultant Ophthalmologist
Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and Department of Ophthalmology
University of Edinburgh, Scotland 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Raised intraocular pressure (IOP) is the major risk factor for the development of glaucoma, the most common cause of irreversible blindness, with lowering IOP the only proven treatment.

Until recently the only way to measure IOP was for patients to visit their clinician  meaning it was only possible to obtain a limited number of measurements. This is problematic given that IOP fluctuates and that 75% of individuals have peak IOP outside office hours. If patients could measure their own IOP it would allow far more measurements to be obtained and result in better understanding of the variation and peaks in IOP. This could improve the detection of glaucoma and determine if patients are adequately controlled with medication.

Recently, a patient-operated, home IOP monitoring device (iCare HOME) has become available. The patient holds the device close to their eye and the device automatically determines if it is in the correct position to take a measurement. The tonometer then deploys a small probe which gently bounces off the surface of the eye to determine IOP. As the probe is only in contact with the surface of the eye for a few milliseconds no anesthetic is needed.

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Risky Behaviors Linked To Contact Lens–Related Eye Infections Among Adults and Adolescents

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Jennifer R. Cope MD Medical Officer Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases CDC

Dr. Cope

Dr. Jennifer R. Cope MD
Medical Officer
Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
CDC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Wearing contact lenses can increase your chances of getting a severe eye infection. Eye infections can lead to serious problems, including blindness. All contact lens wearers can help prevent serious eye infections by correctly wearing and caring for their contact lenses.

Eighty-one percent of young adults, 85% of adolescents, and 88% of older adults regularly did at least one risky behavior related to their contact lenses. The most frequently reported risk behaviors in adolescents were not visiting an eye doctor as least annually, sleeping or napping in lenses, and swimming in lenses.

Among young adults and older adults, the most frequently reported risk behaviors were replacing lenses at intervals longer than those prescribed, replacing lens storage cases at intervals longer than those recommended, swimming in lenses, and sleeping or napping in lenses.

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Does Maternal Preeclampsia Increase Risk of Retinopathy in Premature Infants?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, FACS, FARVO Professor of Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Service and Surgery Principal Investigator Retinal Angiogenesis Laboratory Director of Pediatric Retina, Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics John A. Moran Eye Center Salt Lake City UT 84132

Dr. Hartnett

Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, FACS, FARVO
Professor of Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Service and Surgery
Principal Investigator Retinal Angiogenesis Laboratory
Director of Pediatric Retina, Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics
John A. Moran Eye Center
Salt Lake City UT 84132

On behalf of the co-authors: Julia Shulman, Cindy Weng, Jacob Wilkes, Tom Greene, M. Elizabeth Hartnett

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Maternal preeclampsia causes morbidity to mothers and infants worldwide. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. This study was done to gain insight into the effects of preeclampsia on ROP in a clinical population.

The literature is mixed with some reports that preeclampsia increases risk of Retinopathy of prematurity, whereas others suggest preeclampsia is protective or has no effect. The presence of circulating anti-angiogenic factors in preeclamptic mothers that can enter the fetal circulation lends biologic plausibility to the notion that maternal preeclampsia might interfere with developing vascular beds in the fetus, such as the retina, and potentially lead to severe ROP. However, a report using an experimental model provided evidence that uteroplacental insufficiency, a characteristic of preeclampsia, led to protective mechanisms in the offspring that reduced oxygen-induced retinopathy and promoted overall growth.

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Diabetic Retinopathy May Impact Daily Work and Activities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jeffrey R. Willis MD, PhD 

Dr. Willis

Jeffrey R. Willis MD, PhD
UC Davis Eye Center
University of California, Davis
Sacramento California

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.  Yet there is limited national level data on the impact of worsening DR on quality of life and visual function.

Our study aimed to address this knowledge gap by evaluating the functional burden of DR across severity levels, utilizing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

We found that one-half of US adults with severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) or proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) had difficulty with ≥ 1 visual function task, possibly impacting their daily work/activities.  These patients reported a significantly greater vision-related functional burden relative to those with less severe forms of DR.

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Iris Freckles Are A Potential Biomarker for Chronic Sun Damage

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Iris Freckles Credit: © Africa Studio / Fotolia

Iris Freckles
Credit: © Africa Studio / Fotolia

Dr.med.univ. Christoph Schwab
Departement of Ophthalmology
Medical University of Graz
Graz, Austria 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Knowledge about risk factors and/or pathways involved in pathogenesis is from special importance in order of preventing diseases.

The role of sunlight in several eye diseases is unclear. In our study we found a close relation between sun light exposure – evaluated by a full body skin examination and a personal questionnaire – and iris freckles. Therefore we suggest the presence of iris freckles as a novel biomarker indicating high ocular sun exposure.

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One Time Injection With Spark’s Gene Therapy LUXTURNA Demonstrated Lasting Visual Improvement

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephen R. Russell, MD Dina J Schrage Professor of Macular Degeneration Research Service Director, Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences The University of Iowa

Dr. Russell

Stephen R. Russell, MD
Dina J Schrage Professor of Macular Degeneration Research
Service Director, Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery
Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
The University of Iowa

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study examines the efficacy (and safety) of treating children and adults with a form of retinitis pigmentosa known as RPE65-associated Lebers congenital amaurosis, with an adeno-associated viral vector(AAV) delivered RPE65 construct.  Building on successful phase 1/2b trials from multiple centers, the AAV-hRPE65v2 agent now designated as voretigene neparvovec, contains a highly optimized enhancing sequence and promoter.

The main findings were an improvement on a multiple light level mobility test (MLMT) and multiple additional supportive secondary endpoints which included improvements in full-field light sensitivity, Goldmann visual field, and others.

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Eyedrop Kallikrein Inhibitor Shows Promise for Diabetic Macular Edema

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. David Kita, PhD Founder and Head of R&D Verseon CorporationDr. David Kita, PhD
Founder and Head of R&D
Verseon Corporation

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Kita: The preclinical data presented at the 2017 BIO International Conference provided details about Verseon’s plasma kallikrein inhibitors for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME).

DME affects millions of people worldwide and is a major cause of vision loss in patients with diabetes mellitus. Upregulation of the kallikrein-kinin system in response to diabetes can result in retinal vascular permeability, which can damage the retina and eventually lead to the central vision loss associated with DME.

The current treatment options for DME include intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF agents or corticosteroids into the eye and surgical laser treatments. Long-term use of intravitreal injections is associated with side effects such as inflammation, infections, and cataracts. For anti-VEGF drugs in particular, there is also a growing concern about geographic atrophy. In addition, about 50% of patients reported at most moderate vision improvements following anti-VEGF therapy in clinical trials. This highlights the need for a new treatment that can serve as a monotherapy or as an adjuvant to current therapies.

At Verseon, we are working on inhibitors of the serine protease plasma kallikrein (KLKB1) that can be administered either topically or orally. Verseon’s unique computer-driven drug discovery platform allows us to design potent, selective drug candidates that are unlikely to be found using traditional approaches. We have generated a number of chemically distinct series of KLKB1 inhibitors and optimized multiple lead candidates, which show good activity, permeability, and solubility.

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New Gene Mutation Found to Cause Retinitis Pigmentosa in SW USA Hispanics

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephen P. Daiger, PhD TS Matney Professor of Environmental and Genetic Sciences Human Genetics Center, School of Public Health and Mary Farish Johnston Distinguished Chair of Ophthalmology Ruiz Dept. of Ophthalmology and Visual Science The Univ. of Texas HSC at Houston

Dr. Daiger

Stephen P. Daiger, PhD
Professor, Human Genetics Center
Thomas Stull Matney, Ph.D. Professor in Environmental and Genetic Sciences
Mary Farish Johnston Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Thanks for your questions about our research.  My research group and I have a long-term interest in finding genes and mutations causing inherited retinal diseases.  Our main focus is on retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and, more specifically, the autosomal dominant form of RP.

Inherited retinal diseases are progressive, degenerative diseases of the retina.  Onset can be very early in life, even at birth, or much later in life.  As the degeneration develops an affected person may first experienced limited loss of vision, progressing to severe loss of vision, ending, in many cases, in legal or complete blindness.  About 300,000 Americans are affected by inherited retinal disease and 50% of these have RP.  RP, like most hereditary conditions, can be inherited in an autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive or X-linked fashion.

One of the surprising, and in some sense, disturbing findings in studying  retinitis pigmentosa is that mutations in many different genes can cause this disease.  We now know that mutations in more than 80 genes can cause RP and thousands of different mutations have been found in these genes.  With next-generations sequencing it is possible to find the cause of RP in from 50% to 80% of cases, depending on the underlying mode of inheritance.For example, in our research we can find the disease-causing mutation in about 75% of families with autosomal dominant RP.  Needless to say, a primary aim of our research is to find the cause in the remaining 25%.

In looking for the cause of retinitis pigmentosa in the remaining 25%, that is, those in whom mutations were not detected by earlier methods, we found a potential dominant-acting mutation in the arrestin-1 gene (gene symbol “SAG”) using whole-genome sequencing.  Molecular modeling suggests this mutation is damaging.  This was unexpected because previously-reported mutations in this gene were associated with Oguchi disease, a recessive retinal disease with symptoms distinct from RP.  On further testing our cohort of patients with autosomal dominant RP, we found this mutation in nearly 4% of families.  Even more surprisingly, when we looked closely at the affected families, and worked with our collaborators to test other patients, we discovered that all of the families with the dominant-acting SAG mutation — 12 total — were of Hispanic origin.  By interviewing informative family members we learned that these families have their roots in the Southwestern United States.  Historically, the mutation may have arisen hundreds of years ago, consistent with genetic variation tracking with the mutation.

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Lithium Use in Pregnancy and Risk of Fetal Cardiac Malformations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Elisabetta Patorno, MD, DrPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Dr. Patorno

Elisabetta Patorno, MD, DrPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics,
Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Lithium, a widely used medicine to treat bipolar disorder, has been associated with a 400 fold increased risk of Ebstein’s anomaly, a congenital malformation of the heart, and a 5 fold increased risk of cardiac defects overall in infants when taken early in pregnancy, based on the results from the International Register of Lithium Babies in the 1970’s. Beyond this data, most of the information on the safety of lithium during pregnancy accumulated in the last 40 years is based on case reports and small studies with conflicting results. Despite these concerns and the limited information, lithium remains a first-line treatment for the 1% of women of reproductive age with bipolar disorder in the U.S. population, due to its recognized efficacy during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and due to the presence of a larger body of evidence showing increased risk of congenital malformations for other mood stabilizers, such as valproate.

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Phase I Study Shows IV Gene Therapy May Improve Macular Degeneration

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof Peter A Campochiaro MD Director, Retinal Cell and Molecular Laboratory Professor of Ophthalmology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD

Dr. Campochiaro

Prof Peter A Campochiaro MD
Director, Retinal Cell and Molecular Laboratory
Professor of Ophthalmology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in their eyes resulting in growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid into the retina and reduce vision. The current treatment is to inject proteins that block VEGF which initially provides a very good effect, but repeated injections are needed.

Patients sometimes are unable to keep up the frequency of visits and injections needed to keep the disease quiet and over time there is often gradual loss of vision. The aim of this study was to test a new approach through which a viral vector is injected into the eye resulting in production of a protein that block VEGF in the eye reducing the need for repeated injections.

These are the major findings:

1) Intravitreous injection of an AAV2 vector expressing a protein that blocks vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was safe and well-tolerated.

(2) 5 of 10 patients injected with the highest dose (2 × 10¹⁰ vector genomes) had measurable levels of the therapeutic protein in samples removed from the front of the eye- all of these patients had no or very low levels of anti-AAV2 serum antibodies and 4 of the 5 patients who did not show expression had high anti-AAV2 serum antibodies

(3) Eleven patients had fluid in or under the retina before vector injection and 6 of them showed substantial reduction of the fluid which is the desired outcome.

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