Italian pharmaceutical company sigma-tau has developed a new compound which helps to slow down and improve the symptoms caused by Age-related Macular Disease (AMD).
Named 'Phototrop', the formula contains the company's Acetyl-L-carnitine, in combination with omega-3 fatty acids and Coenzyme Q10. It is currently only licensed for use in Italy where it was introduced in capsule form in January. The Rome-based company said it is in discussions with a number of international health product suppliers for distribution elsewhere.
Dr Massimo Picari, advertising and communications director at sigma-tau Health Science, the firm's natural health division, said that although the cause of AMD is still unknown, it is widely believed to be the result of a large amount of oxidation of the cellular membranes in the retina. Acetyl-L-carnitine is a powerful antioxidant and also regulates the metabolism of mitochondria in the eye cells.
Omega-3 fatty acids, the focus of a growing scientific interest, play an important role as structural membrane lipids, particularly in nerve tissue and the retina, while coenzyme Q10, used in cell growth, is an antioxidant which is thought to stimulate the immune system and increase resistance to disease.
"We carried out a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on AMD patients aged 55-70 years old in Hungary and found that after taking one to two capsules of our product daily for six months, there was a significant improvement in the subjects' visual field," said Dr Picari.
The research will be presented at the forthcoming Arvo meeting in Fort Lauderdale in the US next month.
Phototrop has been licensed to Italian firm Tubilux Pharma, specialists in opthalmology, added Dr Picari. "The product is already doing very well and we are very happy with it," he told NutraIngredients.com.
It will be marketed mainly to opthalmologists and the medical community in Italy, backed by scientific literature. Research will also be presented to the science community over the next year.
"It is this coupling of a good omega-3 product with the Acetyl-L-carnitine, which we found surprisingly effective," continued Dr Picari.
Sigma-tau is one of the leading suppliers of carnitine and claims to have funded more than half of the published research on carnitine deficiency and the effects of carnitine supplementation, leading to several related patents.
The new product also fits with the company's 'Metabolic Approach', which aims to identify formulas that can target cellular metabolism, a primary factor in a number of diseases and age-related conditions. This type of treatment can be implemented before symptoms show up and also in combination with drug treatment when the signs of disease have become visible, suggests sigma-tau.