Tetracycline a potential treatment for retinal diseases?

March 15, 2013 - Researchers at the University of Virginia plan to test the idea that tetracyclines - drugs known mainly as antibiotics to treat bacteria infections -  might slow vision loss due to retinal diseases. They will begin a human trial later this year in which nearly 300 people with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) will take a form of tetracycline called doxycycline (ORACEA®).
At a recent retinal disease conference in Miami, Dr. Elias Reichel of the Tufts Medical Centre in New England spoke about the trial. Dr. Reichel will be a collaborator on this study, which will be led by Dr. Paul Yates in Virginia.
Although the study will enrol people with dry AMD, Dr. Reichel suggested that tetracycline drugs might also have benefits for people with other retinal degerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa.
According to Dr. Reichel, tetracyclines have several properties that might prove useful in treating retinal disease. They reduce oxidative stress in the eye (the build-up of toxins from high energy usage), prevent cell death, and inhibit inflammation.
People with dry AMD will take either daily oral doses of doxycycline, or a placebo (sham treatment), for two years. At the end of that time, the researchers will compare the outcomes in the two groups.
For more information about this planned study, see this listing at clinicaltrials.gov
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