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Media Contact: Joy Bell 21 October 2004    
  (404) 778-3711   Print  | Email ]

Emory Eye Center Treats First Patient in Country in Macular Degeneration Trial
Emory Eye Center recently treated the first patient in the United States using a new system developed by the Theragenics Corporation. The new clinical trial has been designed to evaluate the safety and feasibility of the new TheraSight(TM) Ocular Brachytherapy System for the treatment of sub-foveal choroidal neovascularization associated with exudative (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is a pilot study of three doses of radiation delivered to 30 patients at up to six clinical sites, Emory Eye Center among them. Favorable results of this study may be used to expand to a larger pivotal trial designed to further test the safety and effectiveness of the TheraSight System.

"We're extremely pleased to be the first clinical site to use the TheraSight System," said G. Baker Hubbard, M.D., Emory Eye Center retinal specialist who treated the first patient at Emory Eye Center. "This system has potential as a one-time treatment for select patients with wet AMD, and may have benefit for patients with large sub-foveal lesions, a difficult subset of AMD patients with no currently approved treatment options."

The treatment was a collaborative effort between the Eye Center and Emory's Radiation Oncology Department. Radiology Oncologist Ian Crocker MD, who assisted Dr. Hubbard with the first procedure, says "We have used radiation successfully for years to treat a variety of benign tumors and diseases in the eyes and orbit. We hope to see the same sort of results in this patient population." Dr. Crocker has worked with Theragenics for a number of years in refining the design of the device and the dosing plan.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. There are two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet. TheraSight(TM) is designed to treat the wet form of the disease. With wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels form beneath the macula and leak a fatty fluid that causes the macula to bulge, distorting central vision. While the wet form accounts for only ten percent of cases of macular degeneration, it is responsible for almost 90 percent of the severe vision loss associated with AMD. Each year approximately 200,000 new cases of wet AMD are diagnosed in the United States.

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