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Arthritis drug may slow the progression of dry amd

Currently there are no effective treatments available for patients dealing with the dry form of age-related macular degeneration. A drug that is currently used to treat arthritis, however, shows promise in treating dry AMD. The drug in development, fenretinide, is a synthetic derivative of vitamin A. It works on three key AMD disease mechanisms: it is an anti-inflammatory, inhibits abnormal blood vessel growth and reduces vitamin? A derived toxins. These toxins build up in the retinal pigment epithelium and hinder its ability to feed light-receptor cells in the retina. Phase 2 clinical trials of fenretinide showed that the risk of developing wet AMD decreased almost two-fold in dry AMD patients who took the medicine. In addition, geographic atrophy lesion growth was also reduced. Geographic atrophy lesions can result in pronounced vision loss. Results of the study showed that patients' visual acuity and other indicators of eye health were not adversely affected by fenretinide. The Phase 3 clinical trial is set to begin in 2011.* Andrea Schumann Staff Writer

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