A team of US and German scientists have announced good results for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) Trap-Eye, a new protein that could provide an alternative to laser therapy for people with diabetic macular edema (DME).

Co-developers Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in the US and Germany’s Bayer Healthcare announced that the treatment has passed its second phase of study, showing statistically significant improvement in vision in diabetic macular edema (DME) patients.

VEGF is a fully human soluble VEGF receptor fusion protein that binds all forms of VEGF-A along with the related placental growth factor.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals carried out the study by comparing the drug’s effect with that of laser therapy over 24 weeks.

The results showed that the visual acuity (mean number of letters gained during the testing period) of the patients receiving VEGF Trap-Eye improved from 8.5 to 11.4, compared to 2.5 letters gained with macular laser therapy.

DME is a retina disease that affects diabetic patients, which can lead to blindness, and is a common complication of diabetic retinopathy.