The DRCR Retina Network is undertaking research to develop preventive strategies for diabetic eye disease, explained Jennifer K. Sun, MD, MPH, associate professor of ophthalmology and chief of the Center for Clinical Eye Research and Trials, Harvard Medical School; and chair, DRCR Retina Network.
The DRCR Retina Network is undertaking research to develop preventive strategies for diabetic eye disease. One study is analyzing fenofibrate, which is typically used for cholesterol management, to evaluate how it protects against retinopathy worsening, explained Jennifer K. Sun, MD, MPH, associate professor of ophthalmology and chief of the Center for Clinical Eye Research and Trials, Harvard Medical School; and chair, DRCR Retina Network.
What trials are ongoing in the DRCR Retina Network that you want to highlight?
We're very interested in understanding, now that we have good treatments for late-stage disease—in terms of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema—how do we develop preventive strategies? One of the studies that is currently up and recruiting is a study looking at fenofibrate use for prevention of retinopathy worsening in early-stage diabetic retinopathy. There are a couple of large cardiovascular studies that have suggested that patients on fenofibrate, which has been typically used for cholesterol management—it's been around for decades, and it's pretty well tolerated, it's cheap, because it's off patent, so it's readily available—these studies have suggested that patients on fenofibrate seem to be protected against retinopathy worsening.
Nonetheless, in general, physicians have not used fenofibrate as first-line treatment for diabetic retinopathy, you know, early-stage disease. We're starting a study that will follow patients for 4 years—randomize them to fenofibrate vs placebo. There are a number of studies that are also ongoing within that study looking at how we look at visual function in these patients through contrast sensitivity, through visual fields, and development of imaging biomarkers of disease progression.