A new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine has pinpointed a potential longer-lasting drug treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that is one of the most common sources of blindness.

Researchers carried out trials on mice and rabbits of the drug, which is called AXT107. The drug was shown to be both safe and effective after a test that spanned two months, lead researcher Dr. Peter Campochiaro told HealthDay. The team hopes to kick off human trials later in 2017.

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AXT107 is administered by injection, and the drug’s results lasted lasted twice as long as usual AMD treatment. The drug works by preventing blood vessel growth and by forming an inner gel in the eye, which allows it to be released over the span of several months.

According to the National Eye Institute, AMD is a common eye condition among people age 50 or older. It is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. It gradually destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision. In some patients, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. Meanwhile, other people experience a faster-progressing disorder, which may lead to blindness.

Additionally, research shows that smoking cigarettes about doubles the risk of AMD.

A better, more efficient treatment for AMD is in high demand. Currently, the regimen requires that patients receive frequent injections directly into the eye.

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"Patients with age-related macular degeneration are flooding our offices with multiple injections," Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital who was not involved in the study, told HealthDay.

"We need treatments that last longer, because you have 60- to 80-year-old patients, it's almost impossible for them to come to the office every month. They do it, but it's rough,” he explained.

Source: Campochiaro PA, Mirando AC, Shmueli RB, Lorenc VE, Pandey NB, Green JJ, et al. Tyrosine kinase blocking collagen IV–derived peptide suppresses ocular neovascularization and vascular leakage. Science Translational Medicine. 2017.

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