Currently, people with severe uveitis must take steroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system to control the inflammation. Unfortunately, these powerful drugs can have many serious side effects, such as kidney dysfunction, glaucoma, osteoporosis, increased blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, and weight gain. Because their immune systems are compromised, patients must also limit contact with other people to avoid contagious illnesses. Obviously, current therapies for uveitis severely diminish a patient's quality of life.
The clinical trial results, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Autoimmunity, found that once monthly intravenous infusions with an immune therapy drug called daclizumab controlled uveitis and was well tolerated in seven of 10 patients over a four-year period. The study authors also found initial evidence that a formulation of daclizumab that can be injected under the skin conferred similar results. This might allow patients to administer the drug to themselves at home, making the treatment even more convenient.
"Daclizumab offers the promise of a safe, well-tolerated and effective long-term therapy for uveitis. We are now in the planning stages to begin a larger clinical trial to compare standard therapies with daclizumab," said Dr. Paul Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), which is part of the NIH.
Contact: Tom Hoglund
NIH/National Eye Institute