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Prozac lowers chance of developing dry AMD by 15%

Researchers are exploring the possibility of repurposing a common antidepressant medication as a treatment for age-related macular degeneration

pill packets

Scientists are exploring the potential of the antidepressant medication, fluoxetine (commonly known by the brand name Prozac), as a treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Writing in PNAS, researchers highlighted that analysis of two health insurance data bases revealed that those who had been prescribed fluoxetine at some point in their lives had a 15% lower chance of developing dry AMD.

The structural and functional makeup of fluoxetine is similar to the experimental medication, CY-09, which has shown promise in blocking the inflammatory process that drives AMD.

As it can take a long time to approve a new drug, researchers looked for medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that displayed similarities with the treatment.

Alongside the health insurance analysis, scientists conducted experiments in cells that revealed fluoxetine blocks the inflammatory cascade that causes damage to the eye in AMD.

Injections of the drug were shown to protect the macular from inflammation and degeneration in a mouse model of dry AMD.

Dr Bradley Gelfand, of the University of Virginia, shared that the best way to test whether fluoxetine can be of benefit to AMD patients would be a prospective clinical trial.

“These findings are an exciting example of the promise of drug repurposing, using existing medicines in new and unexpected ways,” he said.

The research was part-funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute and National Institute of General Medical Sciences.