CV drug Darapladib shows potential in diabetic macular oedema

Posted: 14 June 2016 | Victoria White, Digital Content Producer | No comments yet

The discovery demonstrates that Darapladib has potential to provide protection against vision loss in a much wider group of patients with diabetes…

Researchers have discovered that a drug, originally developed to treat cardiovascular disease, has the potential to reduce diabetes-related blindness.

One of the most common complications of diabetes is vision loss. Diabetic macular oedema occurs in approximately 7 per cent of patients with diabetes and is one of the most common causes of blindness in the Western World. In the UK, this sight-threatening complication of diabetic retinopathy is associated with estimated health and social care costs of £116 million.

Queen’s University Belfast and UCL researchers, in partnership with  GlaxoSmithKline, found that the drug Darapladib inhibits an enzyme, called Lp-PLA2, which is increased in people with diabetes and causes blood vessel leakage in the eye which leads to swelling of the retina and severe vision loss.

Currently, the most common treatments for patients with diabetic macular oedema is an injection of a drug directly into to the eye every 4-6 weeks.  The discovery by the Queen’s and UCL teams demonstrates that Darapladib in form of a tablet has potential to reduce the need for monthly injections and provide protection against vision loss in a much wider group of patients with diabetes.

Plans for a clinical trial

Speaking about the breakthrough, Professor Alan Stitt, from the Centre for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University, said: “We have found that an enzyme called Lp-PLA2 which metabolises fats in the blood contributes to blood vessel damage and leakiness in the retina. The drug Darapladib acts as inhibitor of Lp-PLA2, and was originally developed for cardiovascular disease. Based on our break-though we are now planning a clinical trial and if successful we could soon see an alternative, pain-free and cost effective treatment for diabetic-related blindness.”

Dr Patric Turowski, from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said: “With our study we show that a blood lipid produced by Lp-PLA2 constitutes a novel trigger factor in diabetic macular oedema and that use of Darapladib may not only constitute an cost-effective alternative to current DMO treatments but has the potential to be effective for patients that currently do not respond to standard treatment.”

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