Topic To review the role of anatomic endpoints in clinical trials for the study of nonexudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with an emphasis on a novel composite endpoint for the study of emerging therapies for intermediate AMD (iAMD). Clinical Relevance Unlike clinical trials for exudative AMD, it is impractical to use the change in visual acuity (VA) as a primary endpoint for the study of nonexudative AMD. By the time VA has been lost in nonexudative AMD, proof-of-concept early-stage clinical trials would take years to run, and drug development would be a near impossible task. Surrogate endpoints are needed that reliably predict future vision loss and can be easily measured. Anatomic changes that correlate with disease progression in nonexudative AMD offer the greatest promise as primary endpoints. Methods In preparation for this review, the electronic PubMed database was searched for relevant research pertaining to anatomic endpoints for the study of nonexudative AMD. Paper selection was based on our knowledge of the field with the goal to be as inclusive as possible. Whenever possible, recent review articles and results from large clinical trials, preferably with outcomes from many years of follow-up were favored over trials of short duration. Results The most commonly used anatomic endpoint for the study of late, nonexudative AMD is the growth of geographic atrophy (GA). The advantages of studying GA include the appreciation that its enlargement through the foveal center leads to significant vision loss through the availability of natural history studies, the understanding that prevention of this growth would preserve vision in the future, the ability to reliably measure GA using different imaging strategies, and the development appropriate statistical tools that reliably predict the growth of GA over time. The major disadvantage of using GA is that significant, irreversible disease progression has already occurred. The use of drusen volume as a predictor of disease progression and the use of a composite endpoint that incorporates drusen growth, formation of GA, and formation of neovascularization offers an opportunity to study therapies at an earlier stage of AMD with a greater likelihood of preserving better vision over a lifetime. Conclusions Anatomic endpoints for the study of nonexudative AMD are needed to accelerate drug development, and the availability of optical coherence tomography algorithms capable of reliably measuring drusen morphology offer the best opportunity to study therapies for iAMD.
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