Investigational plasma kallikrein inhibitors for the treatment of diabetic macular edema: an expert assessment

Ashay D. Bhatwadekar, Viral S. Kansara, Thomas A. Ciulla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Plasma kallikrein is a  mediator of vascular leakage and inflammation. Activation of plasma kallikrein can induce features of diabetic macular edema (DME) in preclinical models. Human vitreous shows elevated plasma kallikrein levels in patients with DME. Because of the incomplete response of some patients to anti-VEGF agents, and the treatment burden associated with frequent dosing, there is still considerable need for VEGF-independent targeted pathways. Areas covered: This review covers the role of plasma kallikrein in the pathogenesis of DME and the therapeutic potential of plasma kallikrein inhibitors. It discusses early clinical studies of plasma kallikrein pathway modulation for DME, which have been associated with some improvement in visual acuity but with limited improvement in macular edema. This review also highlights KVD001, which is furthest along the development pathway, THR-149, which has recently completed a phase 1 study, and oral agents under development. Expert opinion: Plasma kallikrein inhibitors have a potential role in the treatment of DME, with mixed functional/anatomic results in early clinical trials. Given the large unmet need in DME treatment, further studies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020


  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • diabetic macular edema
  • plasma kallikrein
  • vascular endothelial growth factor
  • vascular permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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