, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 183-194

Current Status of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Inhibition in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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Angiogenesis, the process by which new vessels are created from pre-existing vasculature, has become the subject of intense research in recent years. Increased rates of angiogenesis are associated with several disease states, including cancer, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetic retinopathy. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an important modulator of angiogenesis, and has been implicated in the pathology of a number of conditions, including AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and cancer. AMD is a progressive disease of the macula and the third major cause of blindness worldwide. If not treated appropriately, AMD can progress to involve both eyes. Until recently, the treatment options for AMD have been limited, with photodynamic therapy (PDT) the mainstay of treatment. Although PDT is effective at slowing disease progression, it rarely results in improved vision. Several therapies have been or are now being developed for neovascular AMD, with the goal of inhibiting VEGF. These VEGF inhibitors include the RNA aptamer pegaptanib, partial and full-length antibodies ranibizumab and bevacizumab, the VEGF receptor decoy aflibercept, small interfering RNA-based therapies bevasiranib and AGN 211745, sirolimus, and tyrosine kinase inhibitors, including vatalanib, pazopanib, TG 100801, TG 101095, AG 013958, and AL 39324. At present, established therapies have met with great success in reducing the vision loss associated with neovascular AMD, whereas those still under investigation offer the potential for further advances. In AMD patients, these therapies slow the rate of vision loss and in some cases increase visual acuity. Although VEGF-inhibitor therapies are a milestone in the treatment of these disease states, several concerns need to be addressed before their impact can be fully realized.