NIHR HTA funded trial comparing drugs to treat major cause of blindness
News release from NETSCC, HTA
08 May 2012
The first year results from an NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme funded trial, IVAN, were presented at the world’s largest vision research conference in Florida, USA, on 6 May. Due to appear soon in the journal Ophthalmology, the results have attracted considerable media attention. These include articles published in the Guardian and on the BBC health news website.
The trial has compared two drugs – Lucentis and Avastin - in treating a major cause of loss of vision in the elderly. Wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) leads to the severe loss of sight within two years for 70 per cent of those diagnosed. 610 people with wet AMD participated in the IVAN trial, which is one of the largest ever carried out in the field of eye disease in the UK.
Professor Usha Chakravarthy, the project’s lead researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The IVAN results at the end of the first year show that Lucentis and Avastin have similar effectiveness. Regardless of the drug received, or treating monthly or as needed, sight in the affected eye improved by between one and two lines on a standard eye test.”
The study also indicates that in the UK, the NHS could save £84.5 million annually, based on treating 17,295 eyes each year, by switching from Lucentis to Avastin, and administering the treatment on an as-needed basis.
Patients received injections of the drug into the affected eye every month for the first three months. Groups were then subdivided to receive either injections at every visit thereafter or only if the specialist decided there was persistent disease. The IVAN project involved a team of scientists and eye specialists from Queen’s University Belfast, Bristol, Liverpool, Southampton and Oxford universities, as well as 23 hospitals.
More about Wet AMD
Wet AMD is a condition in which abnormal blood vessels develop in the macula of the eye. The macula is the central part of the retina which is responsible for detailed vision. The new blood vessels can be fragile and leak blood and fluid which cause the macula to swell, and damage occurs rapidly. The damage may also cause scarring of the retina. Although loss of central vision can happen quickly, eye care professionals can slow down or stop the progression of wet AMD if it is detected before severe vision loss occurs. With wet AMD, abnormally high levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are secreted in the eyes. This substance promotes the growth of new abnormal blood vessels. Avastin and Lucentis are both injected into the eye and block the effects of the VEGF.
Notes for editors
1. The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme funds research about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest NIHR programme and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 600 issues published to date. The journal’s 2011 Impact Factor (4.255) ranked it in the top 10% of medical and health-related journals. All issues are available for download, free of charge, from the website. The HTA Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales, and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. www.hta.ac.uk.
2. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).
Paul Davey, Programme Manager (Communications)
Telephone: 02380 595 4309, Email: P.A.Davey@southampton.ac.uk