Implanted Medicine for Macular Degeneration

Implanted Medicine for Macular Degeneration

There has been much progress in the treatment for macular degeneration using retinal medications. One popular procedure is anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) therapeutic injections which have been successful in slowing VEGF progression. VEGF is described as a signaling protein that promotes the growth of new blood vessels which can lead to wet macular degeneration and eventually blindness. VEGF does this by restoring the blood supply to cells and peripheral tissues which, due to a variety of optical threats, are deprived oxygenated blood as a result of reduced blood circulation. 

Injections of one of two medications called bevacizumab and ranibizumab create an anti-VEGF response. The mechanism of these medications works to slow VEGF development by blocking the protein that causes this. The problem with this procedure is that it is required at least once per month and could take several hours (transportation and wait time) as well as excessive cost to maintain. In addition there is the burden it could pose on family members needed to transport a loved one to and from these sessions. 

Recently, the FDA approved SUSVIMO which is a sustained release application of ranibizumab injected into the eye, similar to anti-VEGF injections. The difference is that these injections are needed only two times per year as opposed to twelve times by using sustained release technology. 

This is the first approved implanted sustained release medication which could be a game changer in macular degeneration therapeutics.

A Kentucky First

John Kitchens of the Lexington Surgical Center, is a Kentucky based doctor credited as the first in the world to surgically implant the SUSVIMO protocol. Working with Retina Associates of Kentucky which has been involved in FDA submitted clinical trials as well as their associated pharmaceutical partner Cardinal Health, Kitchens implanted the mechanism developed by the company Genetech. 

Dr. Kitchens commented, 

“This is a really big day for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration. Having an option for patients that can dramatically reduce the number of office visits and injections for patients and their families cannot be understated. It is truly a groundbreaking accomplishment that will change the way we treat people with this condition.”

Sustained Release

Sustained release medication delivery is nothing new. You may even be taking certain supplements that have a built-in sustained release formula to slowly distribute that supplement into your system. The delivery technique, particularly if it is enteric coated (a polymer barrier applied to oral medication that prevents its dissolution or disintegration in the gastric environment), enables a more effective application. This is the same case for the SUSVIMO therapy which is now being used for specific candidates suffering with macular degeneration.

As reported by Kentucky news station WTVQ, 

“SUSVIMO releases medicine slowly into the eye providing continuous treatment. A good candidate is a patient who has responded to at least two injections of a VEGF inhibitor in the gel-like part of the eye. Patients should be monitored after the surgical implant in case any side effects emerge.”

You May Be a Candidate

The best thing about this therapy is that it is no longer in the clinical trial stage after being approved by the FDA in October 2021. This means that you may be a candidate to receive it. 

The approval is described by Roche Media as 

“…positive results from the phase III Archway study primary analysis, which showed nAMD [neovascular, i.e. advanced] patients treated with SUSVIMO achieved and maintained vision gains equivalent to monthly ranibizumab injections – +0.2 and +0.5 eye chart letters from baseline, respectively – at weeks 36 and 40 of treatment. In addition, only 1.6% of Susvimo patients received supplemental ranibizumab treatment before their first refill, and more than 98% could go six months before their first refill.”

Preserving your vision is essential. Using a medicine that can slowly be delivered over time makes it much easier to maintain conventional treatment. With SUSVIMO, now those burdened by the pain and inconvenience of monthly injections can concentrate on alternative peripheral treatment for macular degeneration as well. This is embracing many well studied applications that include diet, herbs, and supplements which can work alongside medications for optimal slowing of this blinding disease. 

Multi-Pronged Approach

With sustained release medicine like SUSVIMO, adding in specific natural applications could offer a multi-pronged approach for optimal results. When it comes to macular degeneration, the optimal results desired would be a significant reduction of disease progression, basically maintaining vision until end of life. In essence, it is a race to hold the reigns of deterioration which would otherwise lead to blindness.

Holistic Application Checklist

Keep this holistic application checklist to attack macular degeneration from all sides: 

  • AREDS 1&II supplemental formulas – The age-related eye disease study supplemental formula is the gold standard for fighting AMD (age-related macular degeneration). Although some feel that the updated second (II) formula is the more beneficial choice other researchers suggest either one. Some of the ingredients include: zeaxanthin, lutein, zinc, beta-carotene, copper, vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • DGLV – Adding more dark green leafy vegetables (DGLV) to your diet could be highly beneficial to supporting optical health. According to a study reported by Science Daily, “A new study has shown that eating vegetable nitrates, found mainly in green leafy vegetables and beetroot, could help reduce your risk of developing early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).” The best DGLV choices include: kale, spinach, collards and broccoli.
  • Lifestyle Modifications – Smoking cessation, reduction of alcohol consumption, and the wearing of sunglasses are all excellent lifestyle modifications that should be applied by all for vision longevity. 

Implanted medicine for macular degeneration shows how researchers are going deeper into treatment approaches for AMD. SUSVIMO has opened the door for more sustained release applications to macular degeneration as well as using the same technology for other disease related treatments. Some researchers are even working on using sustained release tech to apply beneficial compounds derived from holistic remedies directly to the retina as well. 

Talk to your eye doctor about these alternative remedies alongside SUSVIMO to see if you are a candidate to get two injections of anti-VEGF rather than one every month.