The dynamic duo

Diabetes Week UK aligns with study on a new drug to support anti-VEGF injections for diabetic macular oedema


A new blood vessel-stabilising medication is proving to be a promising partner for anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drug Lucentis (ranibizumab) in a recent diabetic macular oedema (DMO) study.

The treatment can be self-administered, offering a potentially more convenient method for patients to manage their condition in future.

The publication of the results of the therapeutic, known as AKB-9778, in the journal of Ophthalmology coincides with Diabetes Week (12–18 June) in the UK.

It was found to boost the effects of Lucentis in a trial of 144 patients with DMO.

Baltimore-based researcher and John Hopkins Medicine ophthalmology professor, Dr Peter Campochiaro, told OT that AKB-9778 activated a cellular pathway that made blood vessels more stable and less prone to DMO.

Dr Campochiaro explained: “It was found that AKB-9778 alone caused improvements in background diabetic retinopathy, so a study is being planned to test that effect in a larger group of patients. In addition, a larger study is being planned to test the combination of VEGF suppression and AKB-9778 versus VEGF suppression alone in patients with DMO.

“AKB-9778 can be given by subcutaneous injections, so patients administer it to themselves, which may ultimately help to reduce visit and injection burden.  Also it may have benefits for other diabetic complications such as diabetic kidney disease,” he highlighted.

Dr Campochiaro said that the drug, owned by pharmaceutical company Aerpio Therapeutics, also had early indications that it was effective in non-VEGF forms of macular oedema.

All going well, the medication could take approximately five years to reach approval, Dr Campochiaro explained. He added: “At least one more Phase II study and then two Phase III studies are needed.  It is likely that this will take three to four years to complete and then the US Food and Drug Administration has eight to 12 months to review the data and make a decision.”