Bayer and partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have begun a late-stage trial of their experimental eye drug, VEGF Trap-Eye as a potential treatment for disease of the retina that seems to particularly affect people from Asia.

The partners have initiated a new Phase III study in collaboration with the Singapore Eye Research Institute investigating VEGF Trap-Eye (aflibercept) in patients with choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) of the retina as a result of pathologic myopia. The trial has started in Japan and other Asian countries, including China, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan.

The study, named MYRROR, will enroll some 250 patients and three out of four patients in the trial will receive an injection of VEGF Trap-Eye into the affected eye. The others will get a sham procedure, and the study is scheduled to run until June 2013.

Myopia is highly prevalent in Asian populations, notably in Singapore where 40% of adults have myopia and nearly 10% have high myopia, where abnormal blood vessels grow and leak into the retina as a result of degenerative changes in the retinal lining of the eye. It is a potentially blinding condition and currently "there is no well-established treatment for myopic CNV", Bayer notes. 

VEGF Trap-Eye is a key drug in Bayer's pipeline and promising late-stage data was presented in November from two parallel Phase III studies in patients with age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 in the USA and Europe.