An enzyme deficiency has been linked to macular degeneration. In recent research conducted by the University of Kentucky, a deficiency in the enzyme DICER-1 was shown it could lead to macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision lost in the elderly. The discovery of this enzyme deficiency could lead to new macular degeneration treatments.
As part of the research, Jayakrishna Ambati indicated the enzyme DICER-1 is reduced in those eyes suffering from dry macular degeneration. This reduction in the enzyme results in the premature death of vision cells which in turn contributes to the progression of macular degeneration.
With the eye donations, researchers were able to collect evidence confirming the enzyme deficiency of DICER-1 was causing the vision cells to die. Using this knowledge provides more clues as to how to develop new treatments for macular degeneration.
In studing DICER-1, researchers wondered if there was a connection between the enzyme and vision loss. As part of their research the scientists turned off the gene responsible for making DICER-1 in mice. This resulted in retinal cells being damaged.
The enzyme DICER-1 turns out was responsible for killing genetic material known as Alu RNA, which accumulates around the eye causing damage.
With this discovery, experts are saying this could lead to a cure for macular degeneration.