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    New measure of cell metabolism may speed progress of therapies

    Research into biomarkers for glaucoma is starting to raise hope for new therapies, according to Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD.

    “We’re turning to the therapeutic side, sort of addressing the stem-cell side,” said Dr. Goldberg, professor and chairman, Byers Eye Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

    In a phase I trial, 11 eyes receiving ciliary neurotrophic factor scored more highly on visual field index and in the retinal nerve fiber layer thickness than untreated fellow eyes, said Dr. Goldberg at the 6th annual Glaucoma 360 New Horizons meeting.

    Dr. Goldberg and his team implanted the NT-501 (Neurotech)—containing retinal pigment epithelium cells in a semipermeable membrane—into the patients. Inserted through the pars plana and secured to the sclera closure, the implant secretes about 20 ng per day of ciliary neurotrophic factor.

    He cautioned that the study was only designed to measure safety so “we couldn’t do statistics” regarding efficacy. However, there were no effects on IOP or other adverse events.

    The team is working to recruit patients for a second phase of the trial in which patients will be randomly assigned 1:1 to sham surgery or implant, with an opportunity to cross over to implants in an open-label extension.

    Their goal is to show improvement in dysfunctional, but not yet dead, retinal ganglion cells.

    “In my laboratory, we’re very focused on neuroprotection, regeneration, and neuro-enhancement,” he said.

    The first results are expected this year.

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