Low Dose of Avastin Prevents Blindness in Premature Babies

Low Dose of Avastin Prevents Blindness in Premature Babies

Drug is normally used for cancer and macular degeneration.
Premature babies could be treated with a very small dose of Avastin to prevent retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), the National Institutes of Health reports. ROP is one of the leading causes of blindness in children.

A study conducted by the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) and supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI), was published April 23 in JAMA Ophthalmology. The NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Preterm babies often have abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. These abnormal blood vessels are fragile and prone to leaking. If left untreated, vessel growth can lead to scarring and retinal detachment, the main cause of ROP-related vision loss.

Avastin is one of several available drugs that inhibit abnormal blood vessel growth by suppressing the overproduction of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Avastin in 2004 as a cancer therapy. Since then, ophthalmologists have used it off-label to inhibit abnormal blood vessel growth in ROP, as well as in other eye disorders.

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