Genetic Testing Does Not Predict Response to Wet AMD Treatment

February 25, 2013
Researchers have determined that identifying the genes linked to a person’s wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) does not predict how well the drugs Lucentis® or Avastin® will save or restore their vision. Their findings are based on an analysis of people participating in the Comparison of AMD Treatment Trials (CATT). Results of the analysis were published in January in the journal Ophthalmology.

Affecting more than 10 million people in the United States, AMD is a complex disease — age, genetics and lifestyle impact an individual’s risk for developing the condition. Over the past eight years, researchers, including those funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, have identified variations in several genes that are linked to the condition.

That information has led to an improved understanding of why AMD occurs, who might get it and how to treat it. But researchers didn’t know if a person’s genetic profile would help determine how well they would respond to a treatment.

To find out, CATT researchers genetically tested 843 participants and determined that their genetic profiles — based on four AMD-risk genes: CFH, ARMS2, HTRA1 and C3 — had no bearing on the effectiveness of two common wet AMD therapies, Lucentis and Avastin.

Completed in May 2012, the initial goal of the CATT was to compare the overall safety and effectiveness of Lucentis and Avastin for treating wet AMD. The study revealed that Lucentis and Avastin are similarly safe and effective.

“Personalized medicine is a hot topic and for good reason,” says Dr. Stephen Rose, the Foundation’s chief research officer. “Ideally, we want to be able to look at person’s genetic profile or other personal attributes to determine the optimal course of treatment. However, for complex diseases, where many genes and other factors are involved, it won’t be easy to predict a treatment’s effect. These recent results from CATT are evidence of that fact.”

Dr. Rose adds that a retinal exam remains the best way to determine someone’s risk for AMD and related vision loss, and whether a treatment is warranted.

is another effective, frequently prescribed treatment for wet AMD. It was FDA-approved in November 2011, after the CATT was launched, and therefore not included in the study.