Ganciclovir Implant Prevents Progression of CMV Retinitis

April 1, 1995

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

A new drug-releasing device is effective in treating cytomegalovirus(CMV) retinitis, a sight-threatening disease that affects oneout of four people with AIDS, according to results of a NationalEye 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) overa period of several months.

Currently, CMV retinitis is controlled through treatment withintravenous ganciclovir or foscarnet (Foscavir). Because peoplewith AIDS are never cured of CMV retinitis, they must undergodaily intravenous treatment for the rest of their lives. To improvethe treatment and quality of life for these people, researchershave sought alternative therapies for CMV retinitis, such as theganciclovir implant, that would prove safe and effective and sparethem the daily inconvenience of intravenous treatment.

The findings, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology,show that AIDS patients treated with the ganciclovir implant hadno 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 thisexperimental device can help to improve the treatment and potentiallythe quality of life for thousands of AIDS patient worldwide withCMV retinitis," said Dr. Carl Kupfer, Director of the NationalEye Institute.