Vascular Endothelia Growth Factor (VEGF) Trap-Eye provided a significant benefit to patients with diabetic macular edema in a phase 2 trial and updated data now shows the initial improvements were sustained or increased a year later. The intravitreal injections were significantly more effective than the standard treatment, laser photocoagulation, in both preserving and improving visual acuity, as published in Ophthalmology.
VEGF Trap-Eye developed in New York and Germany, is a recombinant fusion protein that contains the VEGF binding domaisn of human VEGF receptors 1 and 2, fused to the Fc domain of human immunoglobulin G1.
While normal eyes contain some VEGF, the ischemic damage that occurs in diabetic eye disease upregulates this protein and several other growth factors. High VEGF levels then cause additional damage to the blood vessels.
At 52 weeks, average improvement ranged from 9.7 to 13.1 letters, compared to -1.3 letters in the laser treatment group. Mean reductions in central retinal thickness from baseline ranged from 165.4 to 227.4 micrometers in patients who received VEGF Trap-Eye, versus 58.4 micrometers for the laser treatment group.
There did not appear to be an increased risk of systemic arteriothrombotic events with the use of VEGF Trap-Eye. Because VEGF Trap-Eye is a fusion protein with high affinity for VEGF, it may be mroe durable and have a longer effect than bevacizumab or ranibizumab.