First patient in Liverpool recruited for new dry-AMD drug trial

Back in February we shared news that St Paul’s Eye Unit at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital hadMr Nick Beare, Consultant Ophthalmologist recruited the first patient in the UK to take part in a global clinical trial to test a new treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  That study is still on-going.

Today, a new first-in-human trial begins in St Paul’s of a drug to stop the progression of this debilitating disease that affects 5 million people world-wide and causes patients to lose central vision.

The trial by Boehringer Ingelheim is testing a new drug which is injected into the eye.  St Paul’s is only one of a few centres in the world trialling this drug and currently there are only six patients who have been recruited and had the drug. The other centres are in the UK, Germany and the US.  

It is hoped the drug works by stopping cells in the retina from dying off. This is a novel approach to treating dry-AMD.  The main aim of this stage of development is to check the safety of the drug.

There are two types of AMD, wet and dry. Wet AMD is when blood vessels grow and leak fluid into the macula, the part of the retina which is responsible for central vision Dry AMD is caused by a thinning of the macula. Over recent years, there has been revolutionary new treatment for wet AMD, but there is no treatment or cure for dry AMD.

The patient who is receiving the new drug has had a significant deterioration in his vision in recent years and is registered with sight impairment. He was recruited through the Clinical Eye Research Centre in St Paul’s Eye Unit, a research unit that brings together scientists and clinicians from a wide range of disciplines to work on preventing and treating sight loss through pioneering research.

Mr Nick Beare, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Principle Investigator, said: “This trial is still in its infancy.  A Phase I trial means it has only just moved from laboratory research into a clinical trial for patients.  It is because of this there are only a few patients and centres that have been chosen to trial the drug in very regulated conditions. As and when the trial progresses through Phase II and Phase III a greater number of patients will be recruited until, hopefully, we can demonstrate the drug is effective in slowing the progression of dry-AMD and it becomes a NHS funded treatment.”

“It is still very early days, but an important step for a condition affecting vision with no treatment”

“Liverpool has long been at the cutting edge of research into eye disease and we are so fortunate to have been able to attract world-leading specialists to Liverpool to work together, share ideas and knowledge, to pioneer new detection methods and treatments.”

It is not unusual for drug trials to take around 10 years to progress through Phase I to fully-funded NHS treatments that prove to be successful in tackling sight loss. 

We will keep you posted on developments!