Encapsulated cells that excrete ciliary neurotrophic factor (Renexus, Neurotech) into the back of the eye are showing promise as a treatment for glaucoma in a multicenter phase II clinical trial, says Jeffrey L. Goldberg, MD, PhD.
Humphrey Visual Field (HVF) values improved in eyes implanted with the capsules, but declined in eyes treated with sham surgery and in fellow eyes, said Dr. Goldberg, professor of ophthalmology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
The results are a step in the direction of reversing the vision loss in glaucoma, said Dr. Goldberg, who presented the preliminary findings at the Glaucoma 360 New Horizons Forum of the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
He was one of four researchers on a panel describing initial progress in helping damaged cells recover or regenerate, rather than merely reducing the IOP that typically causes the damage.
Other promising initial results presented on the panel included insulin as a growth factor to regenerate retinal ganglion cell dendrites and synapses, injection of trabecular meshwork stem cells to improve outflow and reduce IOP, and cell transplantation to replace retinal ganglion cells.
The work on ciliary neurotrohic factor was farthest along in the research presented here. One of several neurotrophic factors produced by neurons or Mueller cells, ciliary neurotrophic factor is expressed in the retina under stressful conditions such as experimental ocular hypertension and optic nerve trauma, and it can protect photoreceptors.