Promising results from gene therapy research to treat macular degeneration

By David Weber
Australian research on a new gene therapy which could revolutionize treatment of macular degeneration (AMD) is showing positive results. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world and statistics suggest that it affects one in seven Australians over the age of 50. The condition occurs in two forms, wet and dry. The dry form of the disease cannot be treated but wet AMD can be with regular drug injections to stop the growth of a problem protein and halt vision deterioration. However, the treatment does not always lead to improved sight.
In a world first, Perth researchers have developed a new method which only requires one injection and can reverse the damage. June Walker was diagnosed with AMD six years ago and is a participant in the study. “There’s a lot of improvement,” she said. “I can see a lot better than I could do but I [still] can’t drive the car and I can’t read.” I can see things that I couldn’t see before, which was color, and I can see the TV, which is good, but I can’t read the letters on it.”
Naturally occurring protein the key: researcher
Professor Elizabeth Rakoczy is part of the team of researchers at Lions’ Eye Institute behind the revolutionary treatment.
She said the key to this gene therapy was a natural protein which already exists in the eye. “Our first success was treating a blind dog, who regained its vision, and we followed the dog for four years and it still had its sight.” said Professor Elizabeth Rakoczy “So it demonstrated to us the gene therapy can deliver a drug into the eye for a long, long period of time.
“So we put our natural protein… More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-26/macular-degeneration-therapy-research-promising/5618354
Source: ABC News Australia

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