Regeneron's VEGF Trap-Eye blocks a growth factor involved in the creation of blood vessels, which grow abnormally in AMD patients' eyes.
The trial met its primary endpoint of reducing retinal thickness, a measure of the progression of macular degeneration. In a more meaningful endpoint for the patients, the drug also improved vision: Those taking the drug could read an average of almost six more letters on the eye chart than before they took the drug.
The data wasn't a big surprise. Interim data from the trial came out in March and showed trends similar to the ones seen in the final data. In fact, the interim results were so promising that the companies have already started a phase 3 trial of the drug. That trial is comparing the drug with Genentech's
If VEGF Trap-Eye is shown to work better than Lucentis, then it should be able to do well in the AMD market. Lucentis has already proven itself superior to Visudyne, from QLT
The next major event for Regeneron will be an FDA decision next month on its IL-1 blocking drug, rilonacept. The drug treats a very rare (200 to 500 patients in the U.S.) disease called cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes (CAPS). With a patient population that small, Regeneron probably can't make any money off the drug, but it likely hopes to get the drug used off-label for other IL-1 mediated inflammation diseases.