A new drug to treat the rare eye disease acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) is to be trialled at Moorfields. The study will evaluate the effectiveness of a new eye drop formula with the hope of developing the first licenced treatment for the disease.
AK is a rare but serious eye infection caused by a microorganism that is common in tap water, sea water and swimming pools. It affects about 125 people in the UK every year and the vast majority of cases are associated with the use of contact lenses that have come into contact with water. Patients with AK usually experience severe eye pain, photophobia, eye redness and blurred vision.
Professor John Dart, consultant ophthalmologist and principal investigator for the trial, said: “We are very excited to participate in this trial that adopts a uniquely structured therapeutic approach to treating AK. We were very encouraged by the promising pre-clinical data for the new formulation and its potential to make an impact on a rare disease that has no licensed treatments.”
News of the study has been welcomed by patients that have been affected by the eye disease. Irenie Ekkeshis, AK campaigner and patient advocate, contracted AK and lost sight in one eye despite undergoing intensive treatment.
Irenie said: “AK occurs without warning and can be utterly devastating for those affected. It’s really exciting to hear that a licensed treatment is finally being developed for this awful disease. This will be welcome news to all those who have been affected by AK and who know how truly challenging this infection can be.”
The new formulation has been developed by Orphan Drug for AK, a pharmaceutical company specialising in the treatment and prevention of eye pathologies. The study is a European multi centre clinical trial and will recruit 130 patients with AK at six sites across the UK, Italy and Poland.
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