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04 April 2016

Bristol Eye Hospital recruits first UK patient to the Harrier trial

Bristol Eye Hospital, part of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, has recruited the first UK patient to a study looking at a new drug treatment for Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration (nAMD).

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common condition that affects people over the age of 50. There are two types of AMD: atrophic (aAMD) and neovascular (nAMD), more commonly known respectively as dry and wet.

nAMD, can lead to profound vision loss and is the most common cause of registered blindness over the age of 50, currently affecting more than 600,000 people in the UK. Left untreated, nAMD causes a release of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which causes new blood vessels to grow in, and under, the retina. The vessels can bleed and leak and the resulting scarring can cause vision loss.

One of the current treatments for nAMD is Aflibercept which is given as an injection into the eye. However Aflibercept needs to be administered frequently, between every four and eight weeks, so is a significant investment of time for the patient and the health service. The Harrier trial, led nationally by Mr Robin Hamilton at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, seeks to determine if a new drug, RTH258, is as effective as Aflibercept and can be given less frequently, at 12 weekly intervals. The study is recruiting at 13 sites across England and is set to be open until May 2018.

Miss Abosede Cole (pictured second right), Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and Principal Investigator for the study at Bristol Eye Hospital, is part of the Clinical Trials Unit which includes a Research Unit Manager, a Research Nurse, two Senior Trial Coordinators, two Trial Coordinators and two Assistant Trial Coordinators.

Miss Cole said "Getting the first UK patient is great news and everyone is really pleased. We have a really enthusiastic team in our research unit and it reflects the teamwork and dedication and of the retinal department as a whole. We're really active, committed and excited about clinical research. We look at many different diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetes and myopic degeneration. We're very excited about giving the opportunity to our patients to have treatments that are not routinely available on the NHS. To be active in asking the questions, and hopefully finding new answers and options for our patients, is very motivating."

Find out more about NIHR here