Genetech is currently studying a new drug, lampalizumab, to treat age-related macular degeneration.
The drug is designed to slow the destruction of light-sensing cells in the retina. When those cells die, they are unable to regenerate, which causes permanent vision loss.
129 patients participated in the 18-month study and received monthly eye injections. The patients were compared to those who were given placebo injections. Those who received the drug saw a slight lessening of the disease when compared to those given placebo shots.
In addition, almost 6 in 10 of the participants had a gene variation that causes a part of the immune system to go haywire and this gene is already known to increase the risk of developing AMD in the first place. It was these patients who benefited from the drug and who had 44 percent less eye damage than the placebo patients.