Benjamin KimInvestigator: Dr. Benjamin Kim

Disease: Macular Degeneration

Research Description: The retina is the light sensing tissue that lines the inside of the back of the eye. In the geographic atrophy type of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), areas in the central retina waste away or develop “atrophic” lesions. These lesions lead to blind spots in the patient’s vision, which interfere with many important activities for these patients such as reading, driving, watching television, and recognizing faces. These lesions are responsible for 20% of the legal blindness in North America, and there currently is no treatment at all. Thus, there is a critical need to find a cure for this disease. This study will investigate the use of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), a nutraceutical, to treat geographic atrophy from AMD. ALA was approved years ago in Germany for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, is available over-the-counter and has an excellent safety profile in humans. We hypothesize that oral ALA supplementation reduces the rate of enlargement of the blinding lesions. Given that there is no treatment for these blinding retinal lesions, the potential impact of this study is tremendous, and the implementation of ALA as a treatment would be expected to be relatively quick.

CWR funding role: Participating Funder

Start date: May 2016

Most recent report: Recruitment for this study has begun, with six patients enrolled as of September 2016. Recruitment is expected to increase rapidly, as more clinical sites become involved in the process.

Anticipated next steps:

→ Data published in a scientific journal and/or presented at a scientific conference

→ Data are supporting off-label clinical use

→ Data leveraged into larger philanthropic or government funding to further investigate this potential treatment


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