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Treatment Offered for Blindness Disease

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TOLEDO, Ohio, Mar 29, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Toledo, Ohio, clinic is offering an experimental treatment for macular degeneration, a vision-destroying disease that affects 200,000 Americans a year.

The treatment involves Lucentis, a drug made by the San Francisco biotech firm Genetech Inc., along with another promising experimental drug called Macugen.

The treatment works by shutting down abnormal blood vessels. Such vessels which grow beneath the retina's center, known as the macula, lead to macular degeneration, the Toledo Blade reported.

"This is one of the first treatments that has actually shown improvement," said Ira K. Orgel, an ophthalmologist at Retina Vitreous Associates Inc.

The current treatment is known as photodynamic therapy, which uses a laser and a photosensitive drug to kill the malformed vessels. But trials have shown the therapy at best stabilizes the deterioration in some patients but does not restore sight, the report said.

The new drugs act on compounds called growth factors, which urge the body to grow new blood vessels, the report said.

Dr. Lawrence Singerman, president of Retinal Associates in Cleveland, says the hope for better treatment of macular degeneration is growing.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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