Macular Degeneration

Is It Possible to Prevent the Inflammation that Triggers Dry Macular Degeneration?

New Research Says Maybe


Posted on 12/11/2017 by Maureen Duffy

One of the most significant challenges facing eye and vision researchers is developing an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although there are now a number of well-regarded FDA-approved drug treatments for wet AMD, the key to effective dry AMD treatment remains elusive, although several potential treatments have emerged in recent years.

Current treatments for dry AMD include a number of non-drug-related measures, including (a) nutritional supplements recommended by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), and (b) controlling a range of lifestyle factors, including diet, weight, blood pressure, smoking, and blue and ultraviolet light exposure. Most recently, researchers from the United States and Japan have discovered a "critical trigger" -an enzyme called cGAS, explained below- which starts the inflammation that damages cells and leads to dry AMD and geographic atrophy. Their hope is that this finding will halt inflammation early on in the course of the disease and prevent the progression to vision loss.

Please note that this research is in its very earliest stages and has been conducted thus far only with laboratory mice and human tissue samples. The researchers expect that the development of a drug to stop the cGAS enzyme will take several years. The drug would then have to go through extensive testing to determine its safety and effectiveness. Nevertheless, this research shows promise for developing treatments to prevent inflammation and its progression to dry AMD.

About Enzymes and Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

This new AMD research has been published in the November 29, 2017 edition of Nature Medicine. Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes a range of journals across the life, physical, chemical, and applied sciences and clinical medicine. Topics include current affairs, science funding, scientific ethics, and research breakthroughs. The authors and researchers represent the following institutions from the United States and Japan: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY; Texas A&M University; University of California Los Angeles; University of California Irvine; University of Kentucky, Lexington; University of Massachusetts Medical School; University of Virginia School of Medicine; Doheny Eye Institute, Los Angeles; Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine; Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine; Wakayama Medical University; and University of Tsukuba, Japan.

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