The drug stops progression of cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis, an infection of the light sensitive part of the eye and the major cause of vision loss and blindness in AIDS patients. Unlike traditional treatments that require drug delivery daily through a catheter placed in a central vein, cidofovir is injected into the arm. Central veins are large vessels, for example the jugular vein in the neck, that return blood to the heart. The researchers found that both a low and a high dose of the drug slowed progression of the disease.
"The biggest advantage is that patients receive it only once a week to start and then once every other week," says Douglas Jabs, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Other drugs require that a catheter be placed in a vein and left for the duration of treatment."
A previous study by other Hopkins researchers has found that CMV retinitis accounts for 75 percent of AIDS-related CMV disease.
The Studies of Ocular Complications of AIDS (SOCA) Research Group, which Jabs chairs, plans to begin another study to compare cidofovir with other drugs now used to treat CMV retinitis.
The study was funded by Gilead Sciences, which manufactures the drug.
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