SYDNEY: A new drug developed by Australian scientists is being heralded as a major breakthrough for people suffering from diabetic retinopathy, the main cause of blindness from diabetes.

The debilitating disease occurs in diabetic patients when tiny blood vessels in the retina of the eye, responsible for detecting light, leak fluid or hemorrhage.

However, the only treatment options available include laser surgery or eye injections known as anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy, which do not always prove to be effective.

Lead author Dr Ka Ka Ting from the Centenary Institute in Sydney said.”We believe (the new drug) CD5-2 could potentially be used as a stand-alone therapy to treat those patients who fail to respond to the anti-VEGF treatment.”

She added, “It also may work in conjunction with existing anti-VEGF treatments to extend the effectiveness of the treatment.”

Ting continued, “Proven to be effective on mice, the drug has the ability to reduce vascular leakage and repair damaged blood vessels in the retina.

Head of Centenary’s Vascular Biology Program Professor Jenny Gamble said, This drug has shown great promise for the treatment of several major health problems, in the eye and in the brain.”

The team is now planning to conduct a full-scale clinical trial.