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Drug reverses vision loss caused by diabetes

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New York, Feb 19 (IANS) A prescription drug commonly used to treat age-related vision loss also reverses vision loss caused by diabetes, says a study led by an Indian-origin physician.

The drug, Ranibizumab is manufactured and marketed by US-based Genentech Inc. under the trade name Lucentis.

“We found that Ranibizumab can save the sight of thousands of working-age individuals suffering from diabetic eye disease, as standard treatments such as laser are not as effective,” said lead author Rohit Varma, director of the University of Southern California (USC) Eye Institute.

Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are the leading causes of vision loss in working-age adults in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute.

Varma’s team developed a population-based model that suggests that administering 0.3 milligrams of ranibizumab every four weeks to patients with diabetic macular edema would reduce the number of cases of vision impairment by 45 percent, or 5,134 individuals, and the number of cases of legal blindness by 75 percent, or 1,275 individuals.

The model was based on the approximately 37,000 adults with diabetic macular edema in the US for whom ranibizumab treatment could be used.

The study supported in part by Genentech Inc appeared in the online edition of the journal Ophthalmology.

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