Press Release - Jun 15, 2012
Antioxidant Shown to Reduce Blindness Risk in Extremely Premature Babies
of prematurity (ROP) is the second most common cause of childhood blindness in
the United States, occurring in half of premature infants born earlier than or
at 28 weeks gestational age. The condition is caused by abnormal blood vessel
development in the retina of the eye. ROP risk increases with decreasing
study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) suggests that the
antioxidant, rhSOD (recombinant human Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase), reduces the
risk of developing ROP in extremely low gestational age newborns.
post-hoc analysis study is published online on June 15, 2012 in Neonatology.
looked at a subset of data from a previous multicenter trial that randomized
302 preterm infants to receive either rhSOD or placebo for prevention of
bronchopulmonary dysplasia (a chronic lung condition that affects newborn babies).
analyzed the data looking specifically at the incidence and severity of ROP in
extremely low gestational age newborns.
the entire cohort, there were no significant differences in ROP in newborns
given placebo versus those given rhSOD.
However, those born earlier than 26 weeks (72 babies) had a 22 percent
reduction in ROP. The abnormality was reduced by 53 percent for babies born
earlier than 25 weeks (24 babies).
"Even though strides have been made in
developing interventions to stop ROP from progressing to blindness, there are
currently no therapies available for ROP prevention," said Richard Parad, MD,
BWH Department of Newborn Medicine, lead study author. "There is a large need
for the preventive approach that rhSOD could potentially provide."
researchers note that while looking at ROP was not the primary outcome for
which the prior study was designed, this post-hoc analysis was carefully
re-focused on the tiniest babies with the highest ROP risk based on recent advances
in the understanding of how ROP develops and on evidence from prior studies of
other antioxidants that suggested such agents might interfere with development
light of the findings, the researchers stress that further studies are required
to confirm their observations.
research was supported by Biotechnology General Corporation (now Savient
Pharmaceuticals). rhSOD is currently
owned by Ferring Pharmaceuticals.