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Why one protein might change treatment for Wet-AMD forever

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Some new research from John Hopkins Medicine suggests that the presence of a specific protein may reveal whether a patient suffering from the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, may be safely weaned off treatment. While the research doesn’t bring us closer to a cure, the seven-year study may allow some patients to do without the very unpleasant anti-VEGF injections, which are inserted directly into the eye.

Currently, after a diagnosis of wet-AMD, patients are often told that they will require lifelong monthly, or bi-monthly eye injections to preserve the vision they have left. While these injections are effective in slowing or halting the progression of the condition, they are uncomfortable, expensive and present risks of secondary infection or damage to the retina.

By analysing proteins present in 38 patients over a seven-year period, a specific protein called angiopoietin-like 4 appears to accurately assess the potential for a patient’s treatment to be slowed or even halted. As long as this protein had a higher presence than 4.22/ ng/mL in a sample of eye-fluid, there was up to an 85% chance their treatment could be safely stopped, without any further vision loss as a result of wet-AMD.

This treatment, or rather the lack thereof, would free up time and money for both practitioners and patients.

Of course, the low sample size means that this study will need a larger corroboration from ophthalmologists across the world, before its results see widespread use. However, with a result this strong, there will be more studies in the coming years, and the investment in protein research and RNAi treatments again has demonstrated its value within the sphere of ophthalmology.

Evidently, researchers are making steps in the right direction, even if we are no closer to a cure for age-related macular degeneration. Studies like these bring us closer to understanding the retina, its inner workings and the complex chemical relationships which underpin our vision.

If you suffer from age-related macular degeneration, or would like to learn more about it, our friends at the Macular Society offer valuable insight.




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