New research has revealed that a drug commonly used for cancer treatment, tamoxifen, reduces light induced eye injuries in mice.
The findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, suggest that tamoxifen may hold potential in the treatment of degenerative retinal disease, including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
Researchers from the National Eye Institute monitored light-induced retinal injuries in mice using optical coherence tomography. They noticed that photoreceptor damage and atrophy was greatly reduced or absent in mice that were fed a diet containing tamoxifen, compared to mice on a diet without the drug.
Dr Wai Wong, of the National Eye Institute, told OT that researchers were evaluating tamoxifen-related compounds to better understand the drug’s mode of action.
Effective dose ranges of the drug were being tested in pre-clinical models, he added.
One of the advantages of using tamoxifen as a treatment for denegerative retinal diseases was that it was already FDA approved, and had a long history of use in humans, he explained.
“We won’t need to do extensive safety testing as would be the case for a novel compound,” Dr Wong emphasised.
“The challenges, as in all treatments, involve the potential side effects of tamoxifen,” he added.
The side effects of the drug could potentially complicate the planning and evaluation of clinical trials, Dr Wong highlighted.
“Dose ranging studies will be important in addressing these challenges,” he concluded.