Research roundup, January 2021

Wet AMD and its treatment

Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the abnormal and excessive growth of new blood vessels in the macula at the back of the eye. These blood vessels grow where they do not belong, and leak fluid. Both can cause damage to retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, which usually provide nutrients for the photoreceptors.

When these RPE die, this can lead to photoreceptor death in the macula, and this is what causes the central vision loss in wet AMD.

There are treatments for wet AMD. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factors (anti-VEGFs) are injected into the eye and stop the abnormal blood vessels from growing.

Until December 2020, there were only two approved treatments for wet AMD: Lucentis® (ranibizumab) and Eylea® (aflibercept), which both need to be injected around every four to six weeks.

In December 2020, NICE announced that Beovu® (brolucizumab) had been approved to treat wet AMD. This new anti-VEGF treatment is longer-acting than the current treatments, and needs to be injected only around every 12 weeks. Patients who react well to the drug could have their injections spaced even further apart.

Read our full response to NICE’s decision.