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Age- related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe visual impairment in people 65 years and older in industrialized nations. Exudative, or “wet”, AMD is a late form of AMD (as distinguished from atrophic, so-called dry, AMD) and is responsible for over 60% of all cases of blindness due to AMD. It is widely accepted that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key component in the pathogenesis of choroidal neo-vascularization (CNV), which is a precursor to wet AMD. The current gold-standard for treating wet AMD is the monoclonal antibody fragment ranibizumab (trade name Lucentis), which targets VEGF. Other agents used to treat wet AMD include pegaptanib (Macugen), bevacizumab (Avastin; off-label use), and several other experimental agents. The advent of small interfering RNA (siRNA) has presented a whole new approach to inhibiting VEGF. This article reviews the status of a novel siRNA-based therapeutic, bevasiranib, for the treatment of wet AMD. Bevasiranib is believed to work by down regulating VEGF production in the retina. Studies in human cell-lines and animal models have shown that VEGF siRNAs are effective in inhibiting VEGF production. Although there is a lack of sufficient published data on human studies supporting the use of bevasiranib for wet AMD, available data indicates that due to its unique mechanism of action, bevasiranib might hold some promise as a primary or adjunct treatment for wet AMD.
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