Pride in Progress
In the late 1960s, cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris came out with its Virginia Slims brand, which appeared in ads with the tagline “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” Some say the Virginia Slims brand was developed and marketed as a nod to progress—that is, to the advances of women in the business world and their personal lives.
Surely you are wondering what cigarettes have to do with retina—other than increased risk of macular degeneration and cataract. The simple answer is: not much. But the world of retina, too, has come a long way, as evidenced by the many emerging approaches to treating diseases that affect the posterior segment of the eye. The cover focus of this issue is on new developments in retina medicine, and the articles we have lined up provide looks at some of these novel treatment strategies. Below is a quick peek at what awaits you in the following pages.
Retina specialists are all too familiar with inherited retinal diseases, especially the most common disease in this category: retinitis pigmentosa. Although these diseases remain untreatable, progress has been made toward the development of effective therapeutic approaches. Hershel R. Patel, MS, MD, and David Eichenbaum, MD, take a broad look at some of the emerging treatments targeted at inherited retinal diseases (click here). Their article includes discussion of medical devices, drugs, stem cell therapy, and gene therapy.
Getting more in depth on the topic of gene therapy, David G. Birch, PhD, shares his insights from ongoing gene therapy clinical programs for the treatment of two rare inherited diseases: X-linked retinoschisis and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (click here). Gene therapy is still a rather new notion, but it has shown potential for therapeutic applications, as Dr. Birch points out in his article.
What would a discussion on emerging treatment concepts be without some time spent on cellular therapy? Cellular therapy is the administration of intact, living cells (eg, stem cells and mature cells) to patients to treat disease. As part of our cover focus, Mrinali Gupta, MD, and Szilárd Kiss, MD, present “A Primer on Cellular Therapy,” which provides an overview of cellular immunotherapy, an approach now being investigated in ophthalmology—specifically in the treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis. Although further research is warranted, the authors have been encouraged by their experience with this potential treatment approach. Read the full article here.
Rounding out our article offerings, Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, discusses how an existing cancer drug could offer another low-cost alternative treatment to patients with macular diseases (click here). If this anti-VEGF drug becomes accepted as an option for ophthalmic use, the cost savings potential could be quite significant, particularly in countries that have limited health care resources.
These articles describe only a portion of the amazing progress that has been made in the field of retina. Look back at the past few decades in our subspecialty and be impressed with how far things have come, baby! Now grab your sunglasses and consider the future. Not only do we have a lot to look forward to, but so do our patients. n
Robert L. Avery, MD,
Associate Medical Editor
Allen C. Ho, MD,
Chief Medical Editor