Emerging therapies for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema

M. Vaughn Emerson, Andreas K. Lauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Diabetic macular edema (DME) and choroidal neovascularization (CNV) associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are the leading causes of vision loss in the industrialized world. The mainstay of treatment for both conditions has been thermal laser photocoagulation, while there have been recent advances in the treatment of CNV using photodynamic therapy with verteporfin. While both of these treatments have prevented further vision loss in a subset of patients, vision improvement is rare. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A therapy has revolutionized the treatment of both conditions. Pegaptanib, an anti-VEGF aptamer, prevents vision loss in CNV, although the performance is similar to that of photodynamic therapy. Ranibizumab, an antibody fragment, and bevacizumab, a full-length humanized monoclonal antibody against VEGF, have both shown promising results, with improvements in visual acuity in the treatment of both diseases. VEGF trap, a modified soluble VEGF receptor analog, binds VEGF more tightly than all other anti-VEGF therapies, and has also shown promising results in early trials. Other treatment strategies to decrease the effect of VEGF have used small interfering RNA to inhibit VEGF production and VEGF receptor production. Corticosteroids have shown efficacy in controlled trials, including anacortave acetate in the treatment and prevention of CNV, and intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide and the fluocinolone acetonide implant in the treatment of DME. Receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as vatalanib, inhibit downstream effects of VEGF, and have been effective in the treatment of CNV in early studies. Squalamine lactate inhibits plasma membrane ion channels with downstream effects on VEGF, and has shown promising results with systemic administration. Initial results are also encouraging for other growth factors, including pigment epithelium-derived factor administered via an adenoviral vector. Ruboxistaurin, which decreases protein kinase C activity, has shown positive results in the prevention of diabetic retinopathy progression, and the resolution of DME. Combination therapy has been investigated, and may prove to be quite effective in the management of both DME and AMD-associated CNV, although ongoing and future studies will be crucial to treatment optimization for each condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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