Roche’s Genentech unit has presented promising data which it hopes will result in an approval for a second indication of the sight drug Lucentis.

Genentech said that the findings from the Phase III study BRAVO showed that Lucentis (ranibizumab) improved vision at six months in patients with macular oedema due to branch retinal vein occlusion (RVO). The company noted that the safety profile of Lucentis was consistent with previous experience and no new adverse events were observed in the study.

RVO is a common cause of vision loss that occurs when blood flow through a retinal vein becomes blocked, ie by a blood clot. Lucentis is currently approved for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration and is co-marketed with Novartis.

The BRAVO trial involved six-monthly injections of Lucentis compared to monthly sham injections and two doses of the drug “showed a statistically significant improvement in best-corrected visual acuity”, the best vision a person can achieve with glasses or contact lenses, compared to sham. Full results will be presented at the Retina Congress in New York at the end of September.

Hal Barron, chief medical officer of Genentech, said that RVO is a devastating disease and there are no approved medicines shown to improve vision for six months. "We are excited that another pivotal study has demonstrated the important role Lucentis can play in improving vision in people with difficult-to-treat eye disease,” he said, and the firm is now waiting for the results of CRUISE, a Phase III trial in central-RVO, in the third quarter.