Is there a Macular Degeneration Cure?

Do you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration? Has he or she experienced significant vision loss? You probably have many questions about this Eye Disease, among them: Is there a Macular Degeneration Cure?

A Macular Degeneration Cure is not currently available, but the prospect for its development may be closer than ever before. Due to the discovery of a relatively small number of genes that seem to have a large impact on the risk of developing ARMD, both diagnostic testing and treatments are being developed.

Besides the genetic breakthroughs accomplished since 2005, other pharmaceutical and surgical options are being developed in the quest for a Macular Degeneration Cure. Many of these advancements are currently in Macular Degeneration Clinical Trials.

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What options are being suggested as a Macular Degeneration Cure?

Macular Degeneration Clinical Trials are currently underway for the following Medications:

(1)Mechanism: Visual Cycle Modulation: The human visual cycle is designed to use Cone photoreceptors by day and Rod photoreceptors by night. Despite this design, rods continue to work even during the day. During light exposure, rods generate by-products such as lipofuscin.

A major constituent of lipofuscin is called A2E, which accumulates in the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells with age and has been shown to be toxic in a variety of ways. A2E has been linked to ARMD. It can create free radicals and trigger inflammation.

  • Acucela: oral drug that targets the rod system and spares the Cones. It reduces the rate at which A2E and lipofuscin accumulate in the RPE. It may be able to slow down the Dry ARMD process.
  • Fenretidine: oral drug that reduces the production of lipofuscin and A2E.
  • (2)Mechanism: Neuroprotection: Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor (CNTF) is a cytokine. A cytokine is a small protein released by cells that has a specific effect on the interaction between cells. CNTF has been shown to be able to rescue dying photoreceptors in several models of nerve damage.

  • NT-501 Intraocular Implant (Neurotech) delivers human cells that have been genetically altered to release CNTF.
  • OT-551 (Othera Pharmaceuticals) is an experimental drug in eye drop form for treatment of Geographic Atrophy. It appears to have a positive additive effect when combined with either Lucentis or Avastin. It also may have a neuroprotective effect.
  • (3)Mechanism: Complement Inhibition: The complement system is at the center of many chronic inflammatory processes and can cause damage to cell membranes. Multiple gene coding components of the complement system have been linked to an increased risk for ARMD.

    Tissue damage mediated by the complement system has also been connected to other eye diseases including Glaucoma, Uveitis and Multiple Sclerosis.

    There is also plentiful evidence that the complement system plays a significant role in the progression of ARMD and probably at all stages:

  • From Drusen formation to Geographic Atrophy
  • From Drusen formation to CNVMs
  • From CNVMs to eventual scarring
  • It is no surprise that a Macular Degeneration Cure may rest in inhibiting the complement system. Because this system is possibly involved at all stages of ARMD, the complement inhibitors being developed can potentially work for patients with early as well as advanced ARMD.

    Some of the complement inhibitors being investigated:

  • Eculizumab (Soliris, Alexion Pharmaceuticals)
  • ARC 1905 (Ophthotech)
  • JPE-1375 (Jerini AG)
  • POT-4 (Potentia Pharmaceuticals/Alcon)
  • TNX-234 (Tanox/Genentech)
  • (4)Mechanism: Nutritional Supplementation: Although supplements are not a Macular Degeneration Cure, they may play a key role in helping you keep your vision if you are at high risk for developing advanced ARMD. The AREDS trial has found that certain nutrients may be protective against Dry ARMD.

    Some of the AREDS formula modifications that have been made to increase effectiveness and reduce adverse effects include:

  • Eliminate Beta Carotene because it has been found to increase the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers
  • Decrease Zinc because those participants on the formula with zinc were slightly more likely to develop urinary tract infections than those taking the formula without zinc
  • Adding omega-3 fatty acids and two xanthophylls- lutein and zeaxanthin
  • (5)Mechanism: Surgical Options after the vision loss: There are surgical options being investigated in multiple Macular Degeneration Clinical Trials. Among them are included:

  • Retinal Stem Cells from Bone Marrow
  • Retinal Transplantation
  • Stem Cells from:

  • Human Embryos
  • The Iris
  • Visual prosthetic implant

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