Genetic Testing for Macular Degeneration

ArcticDX Inc has announced that it will begin offering the first genetic testing service for macular degeneration (AMD) in 2008.  ArticDX has made this announcment after completing the licensing agreement with Cambridge Enterprise Limited for a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the complement C3 gene.

The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the complement C3 gene has demonstrated itself as a predictive indicator for the genetic diagnosis of macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly.  The license provides ArcticDX with the rights to incorporate this SNP into a diagnostic test that they are developing as a means of enhancing its accuracy.

The president of ArcticDX, Greg Hines has stated “This will be the first time that clinicians will be able to diagnose the eye condition macular degeneration before symptoms arise.  This provides the opportunity for targeted patient education and routine eye examinations that offer early detection and disease management.  Macular degeneration is a disease that can be arrested but it is not reversible.  It is important to offer early treatment regiments that may arrest the eye disease before significant loss occurs.”

This is a remarkable breakthrough in the area of treatment involving macular degeneration.  Wet macular degeneration can be successfully treated with anti-VEGF drugs such as Lucentis, Avastin and Macugen.  Given how fast this version of the eye disease progresses and causes blindness, early detection through the genetic testing is remarkable.  With dry macular degeneration there is no proven treatment other than dietary supplements consisting of antioxidants and other dietary supplements which have been shown to slow the progression of the eye disease.  Early detection may provide the necessary time required to alter dietary habits, and reduce risk factors such as smoking to curve the advancement of macular degeneration.

ArcticDx has completed a license agreement with Cambridge Enterprise Limited, the commercialisation company of the University of Cambridge.

The research team working on complement C3 was led by Professor John Yates from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Medical Genetics.  “We are delighted that six years of Medical Research Council sponsored research has produced results that increase our understanding of this devastating disease and should lead to better treatments and outcomes for patients” said Professor Yates.

The license to ArcticDX will provide for a genetic test for macular degeneration that is currently affecting approximate 1 in 15 people over the age of 75.