New Treatment for Age-Related Blindness

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 03:08 PM

By Nick Tate

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Tufts University researchers have identified a potential new topical treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
In new research published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, the Tufts scientists found  applications of a compound called PPADS treats both dry AMD (the earlier form) and wet AMD (the rarer, later form) and could represent a breakthrough for treatment of these conditions.
AMD is a leading cause of blindness in seniors. There is currently no treatment for dry AMD and wet AMD can only be treated with regular injections into the eye.
But the Tufts research, involving laboratory mice, found PPADS inhibits damage to the tissues in the eye that impacts an individual's ability to see color and fine detail, and reduces the growth of extraneous blood vessels in the back of the eye related to advanced AMD.
"An ideal therapy would be one that can be self-administered daily by patients," said Rajendra Kumar-Singh, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine. "Further studies are needed to determine safety, dosage, and other factors before advancement of this therapy towards clinical trials, but our study suggests that there's significant promise for the development of self-administered topical treatments for age-related macular degeneration in humans."
According to the National Eye Institute, 7 million Americans are at risk of developing AMD. Factors that contribute to the development of AMD include age, diet, smoking, and genetic predisposition.
To test the effectiveness of PPADS, the Tufts researchers induced AMD-like symptoms in anesthetized mice then applied the treatment every 24 hours for three days. The researchers then examined the eye tissues one week later to assess for progression of the damage and blood vessel growth.
"Our study found that topical application of the PPADS compound works on two fronts," said lead researcher Kerstin Birke. "First, it stops the damage to eyes caused by pores formed in the membrane that leads to cell death within the eye by stopping an immune system process known as complement that is responsible for dry AMD. Second, it prevents the formation of the blood vessels that can leak and damage the eye, a process associated with wet AMD."

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