Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is when the blood vessels of the eye do not develop normally in babies born prematurely (before their due date). This can cause serious loss of vision or blindness if it is not diagnosed or treated early. Babies born before 32 weeks old or weighing less that 1501g are screened for ROP in the UK. Most babies who have ROP will have a mild form of the condition which will not require any treatment and will get better on its own. However for babies with more advanced ROP the only available treatments involve surgery or laser treatments.
Ranibizumab is a medicinal product already available for treating a range of visual impairments in adult patients. It is injected directly into the eye and it works by preventing abnormal blood vessels from developing and growing in the eye (one of the causes of ROP) by blocking a protein called VEGF. If ranibizumab is licenced for treatment of ROP, it will be the first anti-VEGF medication to be approved for the treatment of ROP. This will potentially provide an alternative treatment to laser and surgical treatments for ROP.
Abicipar pegol is a novel therapeutic approach that uses a new generation of genetically engineered proteins that exhibit highly specific and high‐affinity target protein binding. As
an anti‐VEGF‐A, it works by inhibiting the growth of immature blood vessels that grow in the retina, reducing the haemorrhaging and scarring that leads to vision impairment. Abicipar
pegol has the potential to require less frequent injections into the eye than the current standard of care, while providing equal improvements in vision. If licensed this could be an effective treatment option with greater compliance for patients with wet age‐related macular degeneration.