A new treatment for the eye disease macular degeneration is showing great promise in studies. This may potentially lead to new forms of treatment for age-related macular degeneration and could help prevent blindness caused by this degenerative eye disease.
Research conducted at the Scripps Research Institute in California has produced great results for a new macular degeneration treatment. The study involves controlling actions of microRNAs once considered junk in genetic material. However, with research showing these tiny pieces of RNA fine-tune gene activation, research into treatments for macular degeneration has shown that it may be apposible to stop the neovascularization of blood vessels that causes wet macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration occurs when blood vessels ‘leak’ causing damage to the central vision in those people suffering from this form of AMD. The research conducted shows that when treating mice with microRNA it was possible block the growth of these ‘leaky’ blood vessels without causing damage. This made researchers conclude it may be possible to treat eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
Senior author of the story, Professor Martin Friedlander, MD, PhD stated “We believe that targeting and inhibiting the action of microRNAs involved represent a novel and effective way to treat a broad range of neovascular eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and macular telangiectasia.”
Research into macular degeneration has shown that the eye disease is linked to a protein called VEGF. This causes abnormal growth of blood vessels in the back of the eye, affecting the retina and damaging central vision. This is common in wet macular degeneration and the rapid progression of the eye disease results in blindness in a majority of the aging population diagnosed with the condition. Until now, treatments has largely consisted of anti-VEGF injections of drugs such as Lucentis, Avastin, Macugen and Eylea.
These macular degeneration treatments blocked VEGF production and prevented the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Unfortunately, it could also disable growth of new vessels and affect the function of the nerve cells and blood vessels in the retina, creating unintended problems in the eye.
Utilizing treatments for macular degeneration designed around microRNA blocking could potentially revolutionize treatments for the eye disease.