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Lucentis

What is Lucentis?

Lucentis is the trade name for Ranibizumab, which is a monoclonal antibody binding to VEGF-A. It is produced by Novartis and approved for injection into the eye. In ocular oncology, Lucentis:

improves vision by reducing macular oedema. 

prevents or treats painful neovascular glaucoma

induces tumour regression (e.g., vasoproliferative tumour).

 

What is VEGF?

VEGF is produced by a variety of tumours and by healthy tissues when there is a lack of oxygen. Is is mostly used in age-related macular degeneration but is playing an increasing role in ocular oncology.

 

If produced in the eye in excessive amounts, VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) causes:

  • macular oedema with loss of vision, and
  • neovascularisation, which in the iris can cause painful glaucoma (i.e., high intraocular pressure).

 

Macular oedema and neovascularisation tend to occur after radiotherapy of large uveal melanomas, especially in patients with diabetes mellitus. Neovascular glaucoma is also associated with severe exudative retinal detachment.

 

How is Lucentis delivered?

Ranibizumab is delivered by intraocular injection every 6-8 weeks. Any beneficial effects are apparent within days. 

 

What are the risks?

Risks include: conjunctival haemorrhage, pain, floaters, intraocular infection, retinal detachment and cataracts. These complications are rare. Some patients develop thromboembolic events such as stroke but since many of patients are elderly the role of the drug is uncertain. 

An fact sheet is available from Genentech.

 

(Novartis has kindly provided free Lucentis for more than one clinical trial in ocular oncology.)