It takes two

A dual drug combination holds promise for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy

21 Feb 2017 by Selina Powell

Researchers have reported positive results from using a combination of two drugs to treat diabetic retinopathy in rats.

Scientists from the University of Florida Health and Erasmus Medical Centre found that the dual drug therapy angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI) was significantly more effective at treating diabetic rats than using a single drug.

Study co-author, Dr Tuhina Prasad, highlighted to OT that there was no known cure for diabetic retinopathy and current therapies failed to completely prevent the progression of the disease.

She continued: “This [new] approach might prove to be very promising for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, which is the major cause of vision loss in middle aged patients in developed countries.”

Dr Prasad explained that while the two-drug combination did not reverse the effects of diabetic retinopathy in rats, it slowed the disease down and decreased inflammation when compared to results using an angiotensin receptor blocker alone.

The therapy produced a 51% reduction in cell death in the retina over 12 weeks, compared to a 25% drop when only a single drug was used.

Further research would identify the long-term effects of the two-drug combination.

Dr Prasad also qualified the results of the research, noting that the rats used in the experiment were hypertensive as well as diabetic.

“It is possible that some of the beneficial effect that we see here is due to the blood pressure lowering effect of this drug combination,” she explained.

“This combination therapy will need to be tested and evaluated in animal models with normal blood pressure,” Dr Prasad concluded. 

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