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Lucentis to treat sudden blindness


The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug that is already used to tackle one form of age-related visual degeneration as a treatment for a common cause of sudden blindness.

Lucentis, made by Genentech, a unit of Roche Group of Switzerland, will be used to treat macular edema following retinal vein occlusion.

The condition, often is caused by underlying health issues like diabetes or hypertension and can occur across a wide range of ages.

Genentech carried out late-stage trials with 789 people and discovered Lucentis showed results as early as seven days into the study.

Lucentis is already approved for wet age-related macular degeneration and recorded sales of $1.1 billion (£744 million) in the US in 2009.

The drug is injected into the eye, attaching itself to and inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF-A, a protein that researchers believe is key in the formation of new blood vessels.

Lucentis, also known as a ranibizumab injection, has been associated with some unwanted side effects such as detached retina and serious eye infections. Other non-eye-related side effects include nose and throat infections, headaches and respiratory and urinary tract infections.

Copyright Press Association 2010
US Food and Drug Administration

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