A new drug-releasing device is effective in treating cytomegalovirus
(CMV) retinitis, a sight-threatening disease that affects one
out of four people with AIDS, according to results of a National
Eye Institute clinical trial. The 4-millimeter-diameter device,
called a ganciclovir implant, is surgically placed into the eye,
where it releases the antiviral drug ganciclovir (Cyclovene) over
a period of several months.
Currently, CMV retinitis is controlled through treatment with
intravenous ganciclovir or foscarnet (Foscavir). Because people
with AIDS are never cured of CMV retinitis, they must undergo
daily intravenous treatment for the rest of their lives. To improve
the treatment and quality of life for these people, researchers
have sought alternative therapies for CMV retinitis, such as the
ganciclovir implant, that would prove safe and effective and spare
them the daily inconvenience of intravenous treatment.
The findings, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology,
show that AIDS patients treated with the ganciclovir implant had
no progression of newly diagnosed CMV retinitis for about 8 months.
Among those who received no immediate treatment after diagnosis,
the eye infection worsened in about 15 days.
"These findings provide strong scientific evidence that this
experimental device can help to improve the treatment and potentially
the quality of life for thousands of AIDS patient worldwide with
CMV retinitis," said Dr. Carl Kupfer, Director of the National