Early results of studies involving a new pill that could treat blindness amongst diabetics has shown good promise, the drug maker developing the new salt has said.

Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., has since started the second phase of clinical trials for the new drug called Optina which is being tested for efficacy in the treatment of diabetic macular edema, an early stage of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy results in damage to the retina caused by complications arising from diabetes and can result in blindness if not treated in time. Macular edema of the eyes is often an early form of diabetic retinopathy that causes significant vision loss in adults.

Almost all type-1 diabetics and more than 60% of type-2 diabetics develop retinopathy. There is no effective drug treatment for diabetic retinopathy other than general measures such as controlling blood sugar, hypertension, blood lipids, etc.

The need for an effective non-surgical drug treatment of diabetic retinopathy has been felt in recent times due to spread of diabetes across the world with some countries like India reporting one-in-four cases of blood sugar related ailments.

Diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy are complications of diabetes mellitus that occur in approximately one third of patients about ten years after the onset of diabetes. The number of patients in whom diabetes led blindness is being reported worldwide is rapidly growing, says the company in a press statement.

Optina is a repurposed oral drug with an established human safety profile. Pre-clinical studies have shown the potential for Optina to significantly reduce diabetic macular edema in patients. Ampio Pharmaceuticals will be conducting the studies using the drug in St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

"We are very excited to be commencing this trial and pending the final approval of the ethics board we will commence patient recruitment in the next weeks," says Don Wingerter, CEO of Ampio Pharmaceuticals. The company’s product pipeline includes new uses for previously approved drugs and new molecular entities.

Ampio believes that by concentrating on the development of new uses for previously approved drugs, approval timelines, costs and risk of clinical failure are reduced because these drugs are potentially safe and effective while their shorter development times significantly enhance near-term value.