heart disease drug

A heart disease drug called Darapladib could be used to treat diabetic macular edema, according to new research.

Diabetic macular edema affects around seven per cent of people with diabetes, which is normally treated with anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs. These are injected directly into the eyes of patients every four to six weeks.

Scientists at Queen’s University, Belfast and University College London (UCL), UK found that the tablet version of Darapladib could limit the need for these injections.

In their research, they identified that Darapladib, which was originally developed to treat cardiovascular disease, inhibited an enzyme called Lp-PLA2 that is found in people with diabetes. This enzyme causes blood vessel leakage in the eye, which leads to retina swelling and severe vision loss.

The study team now plans to conduct a clinical trial to investigate if Darapladib could provide an alternative treatment for diabetes-related blindness that would not only be more cost-effective, but less painful for patients.

The research for this trial is being conducted in partnership with British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

Diabetes UK Northern Ireland national director Dr David Chaney said of the findings: “Diabetic macular edema is a major cause of vision loss during diabetic retinopathy, and we welcome the results of this study, which identifies a potential target and therapy for this serious condition. We look forward to a future clinical trial to test its effectiveness in humans.”

The findings appear in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science USA journal.