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Considered as the last stage of age-related macular degeneration (the progressive retinal disease), Geographic Atrophy occurs when the macula’s cone cells get wasted due to lack of nutrients and oxygen. This also affects the cells’ ability to remove the built-up of waste products insides. Macula is the retina’s center that is responsible for maintaining the straight ahead and sharp-detailed vision.
Patients suffering from Geographic Atrophy have circular patches of either partial or complete de-pigmentation on retinal pigment epithelium. The degeneration of retinal pigment epithelium cells is what leads to the death of cones and rods.
In simple words, Geographic Atrophy is a continent-like atrophy that is surrounded by the retina. Due to the pigmented RPE cell loss, it begins to look different from the surrounding retina. A dark spot tends to appear in peripheral or central vision that makes it difficult for the patient to identify colors as they seem washed out or dull. The vision becomes less detailed and seeing things in normal light and especially in the dark becomes extremely difficult.
Geographic Atrophy—The Risk Factors
The most common factors that can put you at a risk of developing GA include:
APL-2—The New Hope for GA Patients
Currently, there are no treatments available to either slow down the progression of GA or help patients recover from this condition. Though clinical trials are underway, doctors still can’t treat patients with GA. Vitamins are recommended by doctors to patients who are in early or mid stages of dry AMD to prevent them from reaching the advanced stage.
So, does this mean that there is no hope for GA patients? Well, absolutely not! Apellis Pharmaceuticals has finally come to the rescue of patients with Geographic Atrophy. The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company gives patients with GA the hope that they always needed. APL-2 has proven to not only slow down the progression of this visionary disease but also, assist in vision maintenance. That’s a note-worthy achievement and a breakthrough in this field.
Apellis Pharmaceuticals describes APL-2 as a complement C3 inhibitor. The novel therapy has produced encouraging results in a Phase 2 clinical trial on patients with GA. Let’s take a closer look at the details of this trail and the findings.
When administered monthly through intravitreal injections for 12 months, APL-2 results in 29 percent reduction in GA lesion growth rate. With every other month administration, a significant reduction of 20 percent was observed. However, in a post-hoc analysis, the results were even better. During the next 6 months study, 47 percent reduction in the rate of growth with monthly administration was estimated, which led on to 33 percent more reduction in the every other following month.
APL-2 administration proved to be highly effective in Phase 2. As a result, Apellis Pharmaceutical plans to move forward with their Phase 3 studies for further findings before it is actually introduced in the market for GA patients.